No matter which type of essay question you are tackling, your primary objective is to provide evidence that proves you possess the qualities that admissions committees value most. By doing so, you will move one step closer to an acceptance letter.
In a prior unit we showed you how to define each school’s Fit Qualities. In this unit, we will define the general qualities that all top-tier MBA programs value:
- A Collaborative Nature
- Analytical Intelligence
- Emotional Intelligence
- A Community Orientation
- A Global Viewpoint
All nine qualities are appealing to admissions officers, but you won’t be able to emphasize every single one of them to the same degree. That’s where your application strategy figures in. You will need to decide which attributes you want to spotlight based on the self-assessment work you did in the Discover Your Strengths MBA Prep Step™ and the analysis of your achievements in the Create Your Resume MBA Prep Step™.
You should use the definitions that follow to choose your strongest essay topics and stories. You can also use this list of qualities as a checklist to evaluate the drafts you write and decide whether or not you have done an adequate job of highlighting these qualities in each essay and across your application essays as a whole.
Leadership is the ability to rally other people and motivate them to work together to achieve an important shared vision or goal.
The most frequent mistake we see in application essays is that candidates confuse an individual accomplishment story and a leadership story. The best way to tell the difference is that a leadership achievement is something that you couldn’t have accomplished on your own. Leadership is about achieving your goals by harnessing the energy of other people. By this point in the MBA Prep Steps™ process, you should have a strong grip on your leadership strengths and be ready to choose the leadership story from your Leadership Portfolio that will prove to admissions officers that you are a leader.
A Collaborative Nature
A collaborative nature relates to your ability to be a team player and your willingness to contribute to the success of your teammates. It’s the opposite of selfishness and self-interest. Emphasizing the ability to be a team player and to lead the team when called upon is a key element in earning an acceptance letter to the best business schools.
Integrity is a big word – it has to do with honesty, ethics, morals, and your sense of right and wrong. It boils down to character – doing the right thing, building trust with others, and keeping the promises you make to yourself and to other people. Review the things you learned about in the Discover Your Character Strengths MBA Prep Step™ and ensure that your essays communicate your most important character strengths.
Analytical intelligence has to do with your ability to run the numbers, solve complex problems, identify patterns in information, and make data-driven decisions.
By comparison, emotional intelligence – also known as interpersonal intelligence – has to do with your aptitude for understanding other people’s feelings and your capacity as a leader for tapping into emotion to inspire your followers to realize a higher degree of success.
Creativity, or creative intelligence, relates to your ability to cope with new and unusual situations by drawing on existing knowledge and skills. It also means seeing the world in your own unique way and developing something that hasn’t existed before.
A Community Orientation
Community Orientation means devoting energy to serving your community and making it stronger. Your community service accomplishments provide an important signal that you are a giver, not a taker. Remember, the schools are looking for students who will contribute just as much as they take away. That “What Will You Contribute” essay is a great place to offer proof that you have engaged with the communities you care about and made a positive difference.
A Global Viewpoint has to do with life experiences that extend beyond your domestic borders. In your essays, you can emphasize your cultural and international experiences both in your stories and through the global scope of your career goals.
Self-Awareness relates to your capacity to see yourself objectively, assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and learn from your mistakes, growing beyond existing limitations. Self-assessment, which is integral to the MBA Prep Steps™ process, will prepare you to create an application that captures the essence of who you are and what makes you unique. The self-evaluation essay questions we talked about in the previous unit are a chance for you to show off your hard-won self-awareness.
Unit Review: Nine Qualities You Should Feature in Your Essays
- Leadership: achieving your goals by harnessing the energy of other
- A Collaborative Nature: relates to your ability to be a team player who contributes to the success of your teammates.
- Integrity: doing the right thing, building trust with others, and keeping the promises you make to yourself and to other people.
- Analytical Intelligence: the ability to run the numbers, solve problems, identify patterns in information, and make data-driven decisions.
- Emotional Intelligence: aptitude for understanding other people’s feelings and your capacity as a leader for tapping into emotion to inspire others.
- Creative Intelligence: an ability to cope with new and unusual situations and create something that hasn’t existed before.
- A Community Orientation: offering proof that you have engaged with the communities you care about and made a positive difference.
- A Global Viewpoint: a worldview that extends beyond your home country.
- Self-Awareness: the capacity to see yourself objectively, assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and learn from your mistakes, growing beyond existing limitations.