MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Have to Talk About How Much I Love You!
December 5, 2012
While admissions officers want to know that you are interested in their schools, they are not interested in reading about your love for their school at every single turn. Some candidates mistakenly believe that they need to tie in aggressive and enthusiastic statements about how they will improve their skills at their target schools in each essay, regardless of whether the school asks for it or does not.
Let’s consider this (entirely fictitious) example of an individual who writes about how he started a small business for the Yale SOM essay question, “What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment? Why?” Consider the following hypothetical conclusion:
“In starting ABC distributors, I learned a great deal about entrepreneurship and I hope to formalize this knowledge at the Yale SOM. Only with Yale’s vast entrepreneurial resources and profound alumni connections will I be able to take my next venture to a higher level. At Yale, I will grow my business skills and potential.”
While there are many problems with the two sentences above – they are cloying and there is no real substance – the most egregious aspect is that Yale never asked for the applicant to discuss how the school will affect his/her abilities going forward. So, the “Why Yale” component is just empty pandering.
As you write your essays, you should always focus on answering the essay questions as they are written and should not try to anticipate unwritten questions. So, if your target school does not ask an explicit “Why us?” question – Harvard Business School does not ask “Why HBS?” – you should not find a way to sneakily answer that question in other essays. The admissions committee is not asking this question for a reason. (And, yes, we have helped many candidates succeed in their applications to HBS without addressing this unasked question at all.)
Of course, if your target school explicitly asks a “Why us?” statement, then you should certainly do your homework and answer it. Again, it is all about the question itself.