This post has been marked as OLD. EssaySnark's advice and strategies for winning MBA applications don't change from year to year, but some of the school-specific admissions policies, essay questions, or other information covered in this article may be outdated.
It’s May. Creeping up to the middle of the month. That means, bschools are gonna start releasing their new essay questions soon.
Harvard is usually the first one out of the gate with questions. Then comes Columbia. Most other schools wait till June, and then it all happens in a flurry. A few slowpokes
(Stern we’re looking at you) don’t release questions till August – but then again, NYU doesn’t have its first deadline until November, so that’s actually OK. Update 6/7/13: Stern released questions, AND moved up its Round 1.
We’ve got a directory to MBA essay questions by school – you may have noticed the new menu at the top of the screen. We’re keeping that up to date with application deadlines and miscellaneous commentary too. Once a school has released their questions, they will get a little ☆ character next to their name in the index.
Here’s EssaySnark’s predictions on where we’re going to see MBA essays go this year:
1. The trend for fewer questions is here to stay. Most schools that reduced the number of essays asked last year will stick with that strategy. This includes HBS with their skimpy two-essay application. Stanford, MIT, Columbia, Wharton, Booth – we think all these schools will have the same number of questions that they did last year. Most of them will tweak the questions, at least a little, but we’re betting that all will have the same number of questions total.
2. Columbia will switch up its questions – a bit. One possibility? They may revert to their classic version of essay 1: What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? We always loved that question. It’s clear and direct, and it asks exactly what the school needs to know (Columbia cares about the career goals fit a lot). For their second essay, they may get especially brave and go in the direction of a school like Duke (see below) where they try to a) show their own personality (“We’re a friendly and open school!!”) and b) let the applicant express more of hers. We think the Columbia questions will show a departure from what they’ve done before, not in essence, but in tone.
3. LBS will reduce its questions this year. We believe that LBS saw a drop in applications last season because of how many darned essays they wanted their applicants to write. We think they’ll still keep more essays than other schools, but we’re willing to bet that they go from six questions (or possibly EIGHT if you were a reapplicant who needed to also do the optional essay about something) to four total. They may still keep the word count comparable to what they allowed before (1750 words), perhaps dropping it down to like 1500 total.
4. Duke will keep its awesome “25 Things” essay/list thing. This is a no-brainer in terms of how predictions go. The Duke application was voted the most popular among last year’s Brave Supplicants here on the EssaySnark blahg, and for good reason. This essay rocked. It was fun for candidates, and that “fun” came through on the page. We learned more good stuff about the BSers who applied to Duke than perhaps any other school.
5. Wharton will revamp its questions completely. This is an easy prediction to make; they do this every year. They’ll have one very short career goals essay, and they’ll have an assortment of other questions, one of which will be focused on innovation. They probably won’t have one with a quote from Dean Robertson though, even though that’s been a trend for several years running now. We think they might also ditch the question around “Knowledge for Action” – though we’re divided on this (there’s argument that they’ll keep it since it’s part of their recent rebranding; but maybe they’ll ditch it because man some of those essays on this topic last year were lame).
6. MIT will keep its cover letter. This is also a completely safe prediction for us to make. They’ve had the cover letter as part of their app for like two decades or something (really!). We are doubtful that 2013 would be the year to change it. We’re betting the remaining essay questions are also quite comparable to what they’ve had before: they’ll ask something along the lines of “Tell us about a time when…” and you’ll need to come up with a difficult situation, or a time when you were innovative, or an example of working well on a team.
7. Stanford will also maintain its classic “What matters most?” question. And, everything we just said about MIT’s questions will apply for the GSB too; they tend to be the two schools with the most similar approach (leaving off the vast differences between the Sloan cover letter and the GSB essay 1).
Some of these predictions are very safe. Some schools are a little predictable – mostly because they are getting what they want out of the questions that they’re asking. Still, many of our predictions are just intuition and guesswork. We’ll be as interested as you to see how things play out.