The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #1: Building a Catchy Intro

MBA essay writing, application essay, MBA essay questions, essay writing tips

Ever wonder how to write an eye-catching introduction? Too many MBA applicants resort to dry stock phrases or stiff jargon and the results never make it off the ground. Take this example:

After a hard day of work, I sat in my corner office, thinking of the data I just analyzed.

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, for starters we don’t really BELIEVE it and even if we did, it doesn’t grab our attention at all! This applicant has already lost the reader and he hasn’t even gotten past the first sentence, which is bad news when his dream school will receive thousands of essays.

An essay opener needs to check a few boxes: is it surprising and clever enough to grab the reader’s attention? Does it hint at the content in the essay and you want to read on? Does it set the stage for the STORY the applicant is trying to tell?

After drilling the writer with some hard-hitting questions, here’s what his revised opener looks like:

75 stories above the ground in my corner office, I realized my decisions would change the world. The feeling was indescribable: we rarely think of data analysis as glamorous but looking around I thought that from the planes in the sky to the roads on the ground, everything relied on data.

Here’s why this works: describing the setting and the writer’s feelings gave this story drama. “33 stories above the ground” lets us PICTURE this in our mind and his “realization that his decisions would change the world” makes us want to read on to find out why. Then he ties it all together by introducing the connection between the imagery (sitting on top of the city) with what he does (data analysis). With just a few simple changes, this intro’s gone from a non-starter to a great way to introduce this candidate’s goals and, even more importantly, his story.

So remember:

  • Attention grabbing.
  • Hints at the content making the reader want to continue.
  • Sets the stage for the applicant’s story.

Come back next week to check out helpful tips to thinking outside the box about personal qualities!

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