Virtually every school asks the question “Why School X?” I naively thought this would be my easiest essay. Through some tough love from my consultant Mark, I was quickly rid of that notion. I’m learning that this question is a lot more nuanced than it seems. It’s not just about highlighting a few things that you like about the program. You can’t simply say, “I like Wharton because it’s strong in finance.”
Rather, you need to find those aspects that are truly unique and that make one school so much more perfect for you than any other school. Hint: this info probably isn’t in the school’s admissions brochures. Wharton is obviously strong in finance, but so is Columbia, so you haven’t yet demonstrated fit. As I’m writing this now, it seems like such an obvious fact, but for me it was a hugely helpful point, reflecting something that was lacking in the first draft of my essays. Schools need to protect their yields, so they’re going to be looking for people who have done their homework and who can effectively convey why they want an MBA from that program.
Once you’ve shown why a particular program is perfect for you, you then have to convey why you’re perfect for that program. You’re trying to find your soulmate. Remember in the last season of the Bachelorette where Desiree confessed her love for Brooks, but he didn’t love her back…(anyone?) You don’t want to be Desiree. It’s a two-way street. What makes you unique and what can you contribute?
Anyway, with round 1 deadlines right around the corner, I’m at the point where I know which stories I want to tell and the themes I want to convey. Now, I just need to show programs why I’m an amazing match made in heaven (for each of them).