There are gobs of reasons why you might have fallen in love with School X.
Unfortunately, School X has heard all of them before.
Some admissions consultants even spoonfeed their clients on what to say as a reason. That means that there are gobs of applicants citing the same things all the time.
Some schools aren’t really swayed by the “why” part; others have built their entire applications around it. A school like Kellogg has invented torture-device essay questions as a way to wrangle the truth out of you, to get you to convey what you REALLY think and believe. Same with Tuck and their “nice” and “aware” qualities that they starting asking applicants to write about.
This is in the slippery category of school fit — slippery, because it’s a concept that’s tough to grok immediately, and can be quite difficult to express effectively.
Unless you’re sincere in how you state your reasons, they run the risk of falling flat, or sounding lame, like something you heard someone else say, that you’ve now cribbed into your own essay.
If you have a truly personal reason for attending a school, like you want to go to Ross because you grew up in Michigan but moved away for college and haven’t been able to move back, then that can work nicely (at least, it can for Ross; Harvard wouldn’t care about such a reason, so don’t bother saying this if you’re a transplanted Bostonian trying for HBS). The thing is, these personal reasons are actually ancillary to the MBA and they’re legit for YOU but they’re not primary causes for an adcom to want to admit you.
If you’re from Michigan, then the only reason you’re applying to Ross is because it’s in Michigan. If Ross weren’t in Michigan, you wouldn’t be applying there — at least, not for that stated reason.
So certainly you can include a detail like that; if you feel that you have qualities of the stereotypical Midwesterner (hard worker, down to earth, resilient, kind) then Ross will want to meet you. There’s nothing wrong with associating yourself tacitly in your adcom reader’s brain with those characteristics. (This stuff is admittedly subtle, so warning for anyone who sees this and tries to architect such associations directly — it’s likely to backfire in the form of smarmy writing and an essay that reeks with yuckiness. Authenticity is the only route to success with this.)
Another common case is when a BSer’s spouse has been accepted to a different program at the same school or another school close by. This often comes up in waitlist situations: Both of you are applying to schools in the same admissions season; she gets accepted somewhere, and you’re on the waitlist for a school in the same city. (What we’re talking about here is not “partners applying together” which is when you’re both going for the same MBA program at the same school in the same admissions cycle, ideally applying in the same round. There are different nuances and considerations for that, but today’s advice isn’t really applicable in quite the same way for that separate scenario.)
So how do you convey to the adcom at your MBA program that you really really really want to go there, and oh hey one more reason that you do is because your spouse will be attending school across town, so heck wouldn’t it be great if you got in to this program too?
Here’s just a clarification / caution on mentioning this to your MBA adcom: Phrasing will be key! If you tell them about your partner’s separate school situation in that town, you’ll want to make it a secondary or supporting point, only after you have effectively stated why School X is your #1 unto itself.
The technique to use is to sort of toss it out casually; don’t lead with it. Otherwise it can sound like “I really want to go to MIT because it’s another school in Boston where I’ll be anyway” rather than “OMG MIT I ♡ U!!” and then slip in the detail about your partner secondarily.
This is where the finesse of wordcraft comes in. If it’s stated too clunkily, then the impression on your reader is not one of, “Oh, this person really wants to come here!” Instead, it’s, “Oh, going to this school would be very convenient for this person.”
Hmm. Not exactly the warm-fuzzies you’re hoping to create in your adcom reader’s heart about your application.
We always give feedback on word choice and positioning issues like this — all types of them — when we do an Essay Decimator essay review, and we will frequently mention that such issues exist when we do a Sanity Check pre-submit review, too (those are by nature more limited in the details that are offered, as they’re not a substitute for the whole-hog Essay Decimator service where we dig into the nooks and crannies of everything written in the draft).
If you’ve got personal reasons for choosing School X, by all means, include them! Pull out all the guns when it comes to telling the adcom why you want to go there. But when you do, have an eye to sequencing which conveys importance, and phrasing which constructs emotion in your reader. These are the things that make a good essay great, and it’s why so many revisions and rewrites are typically necessary.
Oh and congrats to your partner for getting into grad school!!! We hope that you will be joining him/her in your quest for admission as well.