MBA Essay Writing Tip #19: Avoiding Generalities

Your MBA essay needs to stand out in a big way... because it's going to be one of thousands sitting on a desk in an admissions office.

Avoid Generalities

Imagine for a moment that you’re a member of your dream school’s admissions committee.

Hundreds and thousands of essays piling up on your desk just waiting to be read and all of them dealing with the same three or four topics. Chances are, you won’t remember 99% of them… which is why it’s ESSENTIAL for applicants to avoid generalities.

The key to avoiding generalities is to get specific. Obvious, right? Rather than coming up with a completely new idea (which is VERY hard) you’re better off adding details to a classic concept to make it your own. It’s these details that will “stick with the reader” down the line.

Here are three quick tips on how to take some plain old sentences that ANYBODY could have written and give them the context-specific details that will turn them into memorable moments:

  1. You can’t choose the essay question, but you CAN choose the subject of your essay within the school’s parameters, so choose wisely. Ideally, you want a story or topic that you’re passionate about… does the subject rile you up? Does it inspire you? Can you talk about it off your head? If not, choose a new subject – a topic that inspires you is a surefire way to avoid a boring essay.
  2. Use SPECIFIC examples. Anyone can write “I like bread” and that statement won’t impress the reader, but with specific examples, that same idea can become “I remember the smell of my mother’s homemade bread on Sunday morning and the way it used to make me feel when I slowly woke up and tumbled to the kitchen to eat my first slice.” That second version shows us WHY she likes bread and lets the reader picture the scene in his mind.
  3. Rather than tell us the minutia of what happened – “My boss walked in and pulled up his leather chair, then he checked his phone and started texting. Then he…” – tell us the STORY of how you felt. The emotional details of your story are more important than describing every little physical action: “My boss sat down and prepared for our meeting. I was nervous to the point of shaking but I gathered my composure and told myself it’d be over in a few minutes. I even used the old trick of picturing him in his underwear to calm down!” It’s HOW you experienced this situation that’s going to grab the reader’s attention and make your essay memorable.

So remember:

  • CHOOSE the right topic: Why is this important to YOU?
  • Use SPECIFIC EXAMPLES to make your point.
  • Use STORYTELLING to let us know how you felt.

Like this post? Check out more of our MBA Essay Writing Guide Tips!

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