Why is Benchmarking MBA essays a bad idea?

Watching people around you get themselves into top MBA programs can create some incorrect impressions. It can be tempting to imagine patterns in their application and base your efforts on this template.

While there is nothing wrong with benchmarking a successful application, there are also risks associated with this strategy. An MBA application is multi-dimensional and covers all aspects of career and motivation. Therefore, each application is unique. As a result, copying or following set templates is a bad idea.

Writing essays about yourself is not an easy task. Getting in the right frame of mind is crucial to extract the best out of yourself.

Here’s an example of a wrong mindset. My friend or I grew up together, went to the same school, have similar work experience. If she got into Harvard, so should I. Since she said she was passionate about social entrepreneurship on their application, I should probably do the same to maximize my chances of getting in.

Here are a few useful things to remember:

– Remember that a successful strategy for one person might not work for another person at all.

– Focus on yourself.

– Trying to guess what the admission committee is looking for is a dangerous game. There is realistically no way for you to game the system because:

– every school is unique

– every admission round is unique

– you will never know with whom you are competing.

– You can be sure that your competition is full of high-achievers with outstanding professional and academic track records. To stand out, you need to bring something truly unique to the table. Something that authentically represents you.

– No need to feel shy or be embarrassed about your past or your ambitions. Own it and take pride in your passions.

– Remember that even if you get past the initial screening with a less-than-authentic application, you will get caught out at the interview stage.

Business schools are looking for people who

– Can handle the academic course work

– Have a strong pre-MBA career with strong progression

– Have clear and ambitious yet achievable short and long term ambitions

– Can provide value to their classmates

– Could be a great ambassador for the school

Admissions committee officers are very experienced at reading applications. They can weed out those who say the right things but don’t mean it. By not presenting your authentic story, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

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