Thursday’s Headlines: How to Write that Winning MBA Application Essay

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Essays are the bane of applications to MBA programs. They can also be key in deciding whether you get in.

Rose Martinelli, a former admissions director at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, encourages applicants to make the process easier by taking a “30,000-foot view” of the entire application.

Writing in Businessweek, Martinelli says: Lay out all the essays and application components together, matching them with the messages that you want to communicate in each. Remember to think about this as a holistic process. The components, taken together, should create a comprehensive picture of you.

Carefully read each question to make sure you understand exactly what is being asked. A common mistake in essays is the applicant’s failure to answer the question posed. So in your quest to convey your story, make sure you first understand and can answer the question. The best way to ensure that you do both is to be direct in your answer and then relate a story that personalizes your response.

Fundamentally, admissions is interested in understanding the “hows and whys” behind your actions and decisions. Your essays should not present a litany of resume facts, but a narrative that knits the most important information together.

"I typically start with an outline and then plug in stories to convey the message I think best highlights my response," Martinelli writes. "Do this for each essay in the application, then check to see if you have found a place for all the information that you want to cover. Remember, there are other areas where you can put content that might not fit in your essays, such as your resume, choice of recommenders, interview and the application-data form.”

Martinelli suggests enlisting the help of people to provide feedback on the essay. She also asks applicants to keep in mind that the essays are meant to be concise, clear and direct. So when editing the essay, it’s a good thing not to be too wedded to your prose, she says.

“Once you’ve drafted your essays, you’ll need courage to go back and edit with a firm hand, keeping what’s necessary and cutting extraneous information that is not essential to conveying your particular story,” she says.

 

Other News:

Goldman Sachs has launched its new electronic bond trading platform as part of its strategy for retaining customers. [Financial Times]

More than three years after his brother confessed to running a massive Ponzi scheme, Peter Madoff is expected to plead guilty on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan in connection with the fraud. [DealBook]

Losses on J.P. Morgan’s bungled trade could total as much as $9 billion. [DealBook]

Institutional Venture Partners, a venture capital firm with investments in Twitter, Zynga and Living Social, has raised $1 billion for I.V.P., XIV, its 14th and largest fund to date. [DealBook]

Former Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of America Corp. proprietary traders plan to start a mortgage hedge fund at New York-based Tandem Global Management LP next month. [Bloomberg]

A new paper from two British universities has found that women working at hedge funds have a harder time gaining credibility than men. [Hedge Fund Net]

Baird Private Wealth Management has acquired five more financial advisors to assist its wealth management divisions in California, Oregon and Texas. [On Wall Street]

BB&T Insurance Services is making flood insurance available for sale online, making it the first insurance broker in the country to do so. [Charlotte Business Journal]

First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. received a dividend upon announcing the sale of $3.1 billion in mortgage-backed securities Wednesday. [Buffalo Business First]

With its acquisition of M&I Bank, Chicago-based BMO Harris grabbed the leading business-banking market share in Wisconsin and is now seeking acquisitions that will boost its presence in five other Midwest states. [The Business Journal]

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