Harvard | Mr. Captain Mishra
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Ms. Lady Programmer
GRE 331, GPA 2.9
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer To PM
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0 (with Honors)
Yale | Mr. Tambourine Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Ms. Eternal Optimism
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0 (First Class Honours)
McCombs School of Business | Mr. CRE
GMAT 625, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Double Eagle
GMAT 740, GPA 3.77
Wharton | Mr. Rural Ed To International Business
GRE 329, GPA 3.6
IU Kelley | Mr. Jiu-Jitsu Account Admin
GMAT 500, GPA 3.23
Wharton | Mr. Sales From Law School
GMAT 700, GPA 11/20
Columbia | Mr. URM Artillery Officer
GRE 317, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Ms. Eyebrows Say It All
GRE 299, GPA 8.2/10
Harvard | Mr. Air Force Seeking Feedback
GRE 329, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. UHNW Family Office
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Certain Government Guy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Hopeful B School Investment Analyst
GRE 334, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Stuck Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Mechanical Engineer W/ CFA Level 2
GMAT 760, GPA 3.83/4.0 WES Conversion
Wharton | Mr. Asset Manager – Research Associate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Community Involvement
GMAT 600, GPA 3.2
Chicago Booth | Mr. International Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. South East Asian Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Ms. Hollywood To Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Ms. Investor To Fintech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Structural Engineer
GMAT 680, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Anxious One
GRE 323, GPA 3.85
Ross | Mr. Saudi Engineer
GRE 312, GPA 3.48

Essays: Responding to Criticism

Next up in our series on major MBA application essay topics:  responding to criticism. A typical essay question in this category may be something like, “What is the toughest criticism/constructive feedback you have ever received, and what did you learn from it?”

Yes, you’d much rather write about your achievements and the great reviews you’ve gotten from your boss, but if the question asks for an example of past criticism, then that is what you must provide.

So why do they ask? The adcoms want to assess your ability to accept when you are wrong and respond constructively. They want to assess your maturity. The ability to react positively to criticism and grow is an important characteristic for an MBA student and future manager. Effective leaders and innovators are those who are willing and able to change their approach when introduced to a better one. Who cares if you can learn new methodologies or theories if you are unwilling to integrate such ideas into your own working style?

In answering such a question demonstrate that you possess self-awareness and resilience through examples in which you learned of your shortcomings and changed your ways. To demonstrate your ability to improve yourself, include the following topics:

  1. The circumstances: What actions did you take, and what were the results of that action?
  2. The feedback: What had been missing or lacking in your approach? What did you do wrong?
  3. Your response to the criticism: How did you change your approach? How did the results differ? What did you learn? Hint: This is the most important element.

A final thought– It’s OK to write you had to mull over the feedback a little before deciding to change your ways.  You don’t want to come across as a doormat or someone who lacks introspection or self-respect. Yes, you should change your ways if your ways were lacking, but only after thinking it through. Now that’s maturity.

By Linda Abraham, CEO and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the soon-to released book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Linda has been helping MBA applicants gain acceptance to top MBA programs since 1994.

Our Series On Perfecting Your MBA Essays: