The ability to be concise is a gift, and is one of the business skills MBA admissions committees, not just at Harvard and Stanford, but at any of the “Top Ten” highly competitive business school #MBA and #EMBA programs consistently look for: can you convey your assets and talents in a clear, crisp, concise professional way? Get you message across in a moderate amount of words (under or near, but not over the maximum), in a way that’s succinct, and yet shows the committee who you are as a future successful business innovator and leader, and that will make you stand out.

So, to relate the following as an example:

This year’s Harvard MBA essay question is:
“As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program? (no word count limit).”

Most of the applicants who are successful in getting in to HBS have, on average, essays that come in with a word count of 1,000 words. Not 1,500 words, and not 2,000 words or more (!)

I’m telling you, write a manifesto, and will get you dinged.

The goal, especially at an Ivy League or “Top Ten” business school, is to present who you are, personally and professionally in the strongest way possible. That means:
1. Know what you want to do. “Undecided” as a career move is weak. The schools (and the business world) doesn’t like weak.
2. Know how your current background and expertise fits in with what that particular school can UNIQUELY offer. In other words, know what makes that school DIFFERENT
3. Know what you, yourself, intend to give back to the school. The adcom wants to know what you bring to table, not only for your fellow classmates, but what you see in yourself, right now, that will set you apart, and indicate that you already have the potential to succeed in the future.

Successful MBA essays usually revolve around a candidate’s unique vision, background, and passion. Drive is also an important trait. All that said, you don’t need to have conquered the world (yet) to get into #HBS or a comparable school like Kellogg, Chicago Booth, Wharton or MIT Sloan. You just need to show the admissions committee that you have the intense drive and vision to succeed, at whatever it is you uniquely are setting out to do.

A focused VISION, and a logical, thought out road map on how you’re going to get there, makes you different!

Top Ten students, as a whole, are competitive, ambitious, driven, and interesting…and, they care about their fellow students and community.
Harvard, for example, values leadership, and those who have the demonstrated potential in their background to become leaders in the future succeed. However, equally important, are those who can demonstrate that they care about their community. In other words, you need to show that your drive isn’t all about YOU.

MBA and EMBA “Top Ten” business school candidates who can show a larger, global, or even (especially for HBS, in particular) social humanitarian interest, and zone in what they do, or want to do with an actionable plan — have, throughout the years that I personally have been working with clients, have had the best possible outcome of success.

The essay is your place to shine, so don’t hold back. MBA Tip: Top Ten business school adcoms don’t just want to see a reiteration of your resume though. Your resume is an outline, the plate your application sits on. The foundation, but the MBA admissions essay, if you think of it this way, is the meat of your meal.

[Looking for help on your MBA or EMBA applications and essays? I’m a former Harvard interviewer, and Harvard grad and run the award-winning MBA admissions firm: MBA Ivy. Contact me today for a free consultation, and get into the school of your dreams!]

Check out my other related MBA blog articles here: The Harvard 2+2 Program: Is it Right For You?