October 8, 2018

National University of Singapore MBA Optional Essay

National University of Singapore

NUS MBA Optional Essay

In 300 words, describe how you have demonstrated leadership and overcame obstacles in your professional, social, or family life.

The secret to this particular essay is not “generalizing” your obstacles. In other words, it is entirely possible that the obstacles that confronted YOU were similarly experienced by others… but weren’t issues for them. The simple way around this is to establish clear goals that you WOULD have been able to achieve much easier (or at all), had it not been for UNEXPECTED challenges that you needed to address. And (this is a very important “and”), these unexpected challenges motivated you to develop and demonstrate LEADERSHIP qualities while addressing them, in order to chip away at your goals.

So, Part 1 is to establish your ORIGINAL GOALS (before those objectives became more difficult). This can happen in many ways. It could be that you decided to dedicated yourself to your studies and put yourself through college and THEN you lost a parent in a tragic way and were forced to PROVIDE for your family at the same time as you stayed on track academically and eventually succeeded at both. Or, the reverse of that. You had ALWAYS been responsible for helping make ends meet, but maybe it was expected that you’d only ever continue doing that and not attend school… because who could possibly do both? But then one day you decided to “make the challenge harder by deciding to go to school” and… by channeling leadership qualities A B and C, you succeeded at both. The point is, the thing that came first can look a little different depending on your particular story. Regardless, there needs to have been an original status quo, which had its own challenges, and that status quo grew HARDER because of some other thing.

Part 2 is all about exploring the ways in which you DEALT with all those challenges, identifying the specific ways in which your choices and actions are demonstrable aspects of “leadership.” All you need is two or three solid examples.

You don’t really need a Part 3, but one nice way to END an essay like this is to establish how you’re poised to bring these skills to bear in a business school setting, and how you hope to continue learning and adding to your “leadership arsenal” to help you achieve your goals later in life, etc. The key is to identify specific areas you’re hoping to continue building on; if you’re too general, it won’t count for much…


You can also read through¬†our team’s analysis of the rest of NUS’s application essays.

Learn more and explore each step of NUS’s full-time MBA application process here.

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