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10 Common mistakes in MBA application and essay writing that must be avoided

Writing the MBA application essays is an art which may not be that easy to learn and implement. However, knowing what not to do during MBA application process is definitely a science. Here is an attempt to translate this into 10 simple tips on what one must avoid while selecting the b-schools and writing the essays, which form a critical parameter for selection.

1) Not researching the schools well –

MBA is big decision and perhaps a life changing event. One must do a good amount of introspection regarding short term and long term goals, interests, individual personality before identifying the schools to apply to. MBA schools are very particular about fit and one must do research on culture, specializations, activities and student profiles of various b-schools while short-listing.

Also, do not forget parameters such as location, duration and your budget while taking the call.

2) Not being yourself –

A very common mistake applicants make is faking either what they have done or what they are as a person. This does not help at all. Even if a candidate manages to get an interview call, adcoms are smart enough to identify what you have made up.

Self reflection should tell you what the strengths you actually possess are and what are your weaknesses. Writing what you are in essays will give you confidence to face interviews well.

3) Being flamboyant or demeaning others –

This is a complete NO. Do not ever try to boast too much about yourself. You do need to sell your profile to the adcom but never give a feeling of being arrogant.

While you are free to appreciate your qualities, you are not supposed to demean others. For example – you can’t say, “I often took initiative in my team while other team members never did so”.

4) Usage of heavy English –

The MBA selection board wants to know you and this may not necessarily need heavy English. A good usage of vocabulary is advised. However, one should not expect the adcom to read the essays with a dictionary in hand.

Write the way you are comfortable. Do not insert heavy words just for the sake of it.

5) Using the abused words and buzzwords

Sometimes applicants feel that usage of hot words such as globalization, e-commerce, synergy, diversity etc will put some more weight to their application. On the contrary, it reduces the quality of your essays. An occasional or relevant usage is fine but please do not overuse these.

Also try to highlight your traits indirectly rather than using the abused words like ‘Leadership’, ‘Team player” etc which have become cliché. Instead you could use traits that reflect leadership. Eg – “Standing for the team in hour of need” or “creating examples for others to follow”

6) Inconsistency –

If you have written taking initiative as strength at one place, you can not indicate the same as an improvement area somewhere else in your application.

Contradictions of any kind should be eliminated during the essay reviews.

7) Not being specific –

Details do matter. You have to support your points with examples. Demonstrated qualities add more value to your profile than just saying, I have been excellent at a particular skill.

8) Problem of plenty –

An essay should not contain too many points. In order to leave a mark on the admissions committee when it reads your essay, it is imperative that story is built around a few points and a coherent theme emerges.

This also applies to overall application. Hence you cannot bring out 10 strength areas in different essays. Just focus on say 3-4 traits and highlight them in different ways throughout the application.

9) Excess of ornamentation –

Creativity is good but one should note that you are not writing a poem. Refrain from excessive mentions of quotations or using too much of rhyme or artistic language

10) Only explaining ‘What’, not explaining ‘How’ and ‘Why’ –

It does not suffice to write that you got business worth USD 20 million for your organization, you must briefly mention how (i.e. what specific steps you took to get this).

Similarly if you say you like social service, do mention why do you do this (what motivates you)

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