2021 Will Be A Competitive Application Year: Here’s How To Stand Out

How To Set Your MBA Essay Up For Success

The MBA essay is an opportunity to tell admissions officers your story outside of your resume, test scores, and numbers.

And writing a compelling essay is dependent on how well you set yourself up prior to writing.

Sharon Joyce, of Fortuna Admissions, recently offered a few tips on how applicants can set themselves up for a compelling MBA essay.


Joyce says that prior to writing, applicants should consider the big picture.

To do that, she recommends doing three things: brainstorm, reflect, and frame. At each step, Joyce notes, applicants should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Brainstorm: What factors have driven your personal life and professional career?
  • Reflect: What key messages do you want to convey? What are the three or so most important take-aways you want the reader to know in the context of the questions?
  • Frame: Start with a bullet point version and show a logical flow in your path.

Joyce says asking yourself these questions is key to setting your essay writing up for success.

“In the end, your personal motivations and future ambitions become the filter for crafting a powerful narrative about who you are and where you’re going,” she writes.


When writing your essay, you’ll want to capture a key experience or challenge that you went through and how you grew from it.

“Adcoms will often explicitly ask for stories that demonstrate growth of some kind, but even if the prompt doesn’t include that word, pretty much everything on the application should show some sort of progress,” Alex Collazo, Managing Director Of Systems & Content at Admissionado, writes for P&Q. “Meaning that at the beginning of the story you were X amount ready to do an MBA, but at the end of the story you were Y amount ready, where Y is greater than X.”

To do that, Joyce recommends stepping back and reflecting.

“Think about the memorable experience and why it might have brought you great happiness, or proved to be a particularly rewarding challenge,” she writes. “This might be an opportunity to share an experience where you grew in confidence from a lesson in failure or went beyond yourself to succeed.”


Whether you choose to read sample admissions essays or look at the stories of your role models, experts recommend finding some way during the essay process to seek out inspiration.

“Reflect upon self-assessment tools you might have taken in the past, such as CliftonStrengths, and how your unique set of talents and traits can be highlighted in your business school essays,” Joyce writes. “Once you’re sufficiently prepared and inspired, start to play with possibilities on the page. Dare to have a little fun here – humans respond to enthusiasm and your voice conveys your personality.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, P&Q

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