Does your resume still have high school information on it?
Is your most recent volunteer experience that you’re reporting to the adcoms from when you were in college?
Are you writing your MBA essays about how you were the youngest in your company to get promoted to your current role — which happened five years ago?
To be more precise: What’s the ideal timeframe to be focusing on in the events and successes in your MBA apps?
Identifying the right stories to tell in the essays is probably 4/5ths of your strategy.
Presenting those stories effectively is the other 4/5ths.
Besides the issue about how you might sound to others when you’re still tooting an old and rusty horn (overemphasizing a big achievement or success that happened a long time ago is just as questionable in everyday life ), you’re also not giving the adcom what they need: They want to know who you are TODAY in order to best evaluate whether you’re a fit to their program and how you’ll contribute to their community.
Past achievements absolutely can be relevant. But the emphasis needs to be on the CURRENT state of affairs in your life.
A good rule of thumb for selecting stories for your MBA essays is to keep your content within the past three years(ish).
This is not set in stone. There’s no official line in the sand saying you can’t go back to 2014 for a story that you’re using in a Class of 2020 application.
However, the older the stories are that you’re using, the more we get squirmy about things. We want to know what you’ve done with yourself lately. The adcoms are interested in where you’re at now.
If all you’re talking about is stories from long ago, then the adcom may wonder if you’ve peaked early. Maybe you did something grand when you were early in your career, but now you are coasting. They want to admit strivers. Students who are going places.
Where you’ve been absolutely counts, but what you’ve done recently has more weight for your candidacy.
Our Essay Ideas App Accelerator is a great way to get one-on-one input on your plans for your essays. We’ll look at your outlines and let you know how the balance is shaping up, for your profile in your pitch at that specific school.
Or, if you’re still stuck on what exactly merits inclusion in the apps and want help in sorting through your past experiences to select the ones that are most powerful to use in any of your applications, then you can check out our Accomplishments & Achievements App Accelerator.
Both of these steps feature a tutorial to walk you through the best practices of identifying your stories and developing your content, and they offer private feedback from EssaySnark to let you know where you’re on track.
Now would be a great time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Do some digging in the dirt of your past. Uncover those gems. See what you’ve got to work with.
Anything old and crusty might still belong somewhere in the apps, if you can find a way to polish it up and make it sparkly – and relevant. Keeping things current is usually the best way to go.
In case you’re not following our little attempt at math humor in this post, the logic is: If you don’t have the right stories, you’re not setting yourself up effectively for your adcoms’ evaluation, and if you don’t tell those stories well then your apps are also not optimized. Both aspects of MBA app execution are equally important.