Anatomy of a Really Bad MBA Essay- Part III

In “Anatomy of a Really Bad M.B.A. Essay (Part One),” we discussed “Rambling” as a common characteristic of really bad M.B.A. essays. In Part Two, we discussed “Big Words-erization.”  

Now, we’ll discuss the following…

3. Blandness – Remember all those nights in undergrad when you had to read the most lifeless texts known to man, and you wondered why anyone would ever torture you so badly? Well, that’s exactly how admissions officers feel when they have to read bland, uninspiring personal statements that provide little to no insight about the applicant. Remember that these admissions teams must scour an enormous pile of applications for the finest students and, being human, may lose patience for particularly bland essays. Avoid prompting that aspect of the admissions experience. 

Instead, search your M.B.A. essay:

  • Does your essay contain words that repeat several times?
  • Does it contain ideas or experiences that just about anyone can have?
  • Does it lack special traits that your target business school would clearly benefit from?
  • Do you lack excitement after you’ve read your essay for the fifth time?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ve possibly written a really underwhelming M.B.A. essay.

How to Fix – There’s no person on the planet that’s bland or boring, but if the story about that person is not carefully written, it’s easy for the person to appear that way. To fix “blandness” issues in an M.B.A. essay, just imagine that the essay is an honest, intimate conversation about your dreams.  

For example, if someone asked you how you “got into sales,” would you say:  

“I became attracted to sales because of the many benefits provided by my company”  

      OR, would you say: 

“At age 15, while my peers enjoyed hours of weekend sleep, my father would drive me to his deli every Saturday at 6 a.m. to help tend to his faithful customers”  

Which sentence would you more likely say? The latter sentence, right? Why? Because it begins a narrative about an applicant who is creatively expressing that: “sales” is practically in his or her blood. So, just remember: you don’t have to be melodramatic about your personal statement, but you do have to approach your essay answers with experiences that are unique, exciting and compelling to you. 

By Penn & Paper, the premier editing and admissions counseling service. MBA Podcaster listeners receive up to $100 off Penn & Paper MBA services (code: winning).

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