A common technique that we see in MBA essays is when the applicant either:
1) Talks about how the school they’re applying to is “the best at blah blah” or is “world renowned” or “top ranked” or some other sentiment about how it’s so set apart from its peers
2) Talks about THEMSELVES in similar language, saying that they were the only intern to get an offer
These are two separate tactics — in one, you’re trying to say why you want to go to this school, and in another, you’re trying to say how you should be admitted — but we’re going to discuss them both today because of how they’re the same.
In both cases, the writer is offering a comparison: Here is THIS THING which I say is better than THIS OTHER THING.
The problem with doing that on #1 is, how are you the expert in evaluating these schools, such that you can anoint THIS SCHOOL as so superlative to all the others? Have you done a survey? Have you done an academic study of the thing you’re touting about this school as being so exemplary? How do you know that they’re the best in case study, or the best in finance, or whatever you’re claiming? From what are you basing that statement? It falls apart quickly when you examine it.
If you’re saying it because you’ve heard someone else say that…. then perhaps you can use that (“According to so-and-so, this is the best program for….”) but then that ends up sounding like you’re writing a marketing brochure, and it’s not YOUR reason. It’s you saying that you heard it from someone else. It’s by definition not personal. Saying a school is “top ranked” is not a good reason to apply there. The schools know how they’re ranked. A school’s ranking is not enough reason to apply. It’s just paying lip service. It does nothing to express meaning in your essay.
Even worse is when there’s an implicit comparison — “Columbia is strongest in finance” and we assume you’re saying “compared to Booth and Wharton and Harvard and LBS and NYU” but then that also would imply that you are not applying to any of those schools. Because then you’d be applying to a second-rate program. And why would you do that, when you yourself, in writing that sentence, are making a statement about how you prioritize “the best”? It’s a rare bird indeed who is applying only to one school (or claiming they are). Don’t set that trap for yourself by a seemingly innocent statement in the essay.
These are admittedly subtle issues, and lots and lots of applicants write this way, and some of them get in anyway. But it’s not (ahem) the best way to do it. 🙂
Mostly such statements about a school are just throwaways. They don’t say why YOU WANT TO GO THERE. They’re telling the adcom things about their school that they already know. Not strategic. Just more blahblahblah. You can get away with a little blahblah in the essay but if you have too much of it, then that means there’s not enough substance.
We’ll discuss the separate but related tactic of comparing yourself to others soon. Y’all come back, ya hear?
Update: Posted HERE!
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