How to write an MBA admission essay using Structured Thinking approach?

How to write an MBA admission essay using Structured Thinking approach?
June 8, 2020Vikings Career StrategistsLeave a comment
MBA Admission Essay
MBA Admission Essay
Communication is one of the core aspects of being human and the ability to communicate in any form can help you in every part of your life. MBA admission essay writing is a skill that needs to be nurtured with time and it’s hard to grow.

Words are a powerful means to convey your thoughts. For an essay, the power doesn’t lie in the words you choose but the collective meaning it portrays. Most of the MBA or MIM applicants struggle to write long essays and SOPs when they are applying to global universities. After reviewing more than 500 essays, the usual trend I saw is that when the essay or the question’s word limit goes beyond 250~300 words, people struggle to think about it in a coherent way and just write anything that comes to their mind, therefore the essay loses its structure and in turn collapses. Usually, we are all busy with our day to day lives and don’t find time to think about our self or do self-reflection regularly. One of the American poets, Maya Angelou puts it perfectly –

“The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.”

All the information and things are clear and organized in our brains somewhere but it doesn’t come out in a structured way when we need to write it. Let’s explore how we can overcome this and streamline our MBA admission essay.

For anything big to stay stable, structure plays a key role and so it does in essays as well. A robust and clear structure is the foundation of writing good and meaningful essays. It helps to attain several key objectives:

Key points can stand out and stick in the mind of the readers
Reduces the time it takes to understand the story
Improves the visual appeal of the essay
Makes it easier to refer back and forth while reading
Provides flow and coherent direction to your essay
It’s fairly clear that you must attain all of the above in order for the reader to understand your essay and infer clearly what you are trying to say. Here is a method that I have devised based on my experience with MBA aspirants during the last 6 years.

There are five major steps to build the right structure for an MBA admission essay:

Raw material: Laying the ground by gathering information
Association game: placement and categorization of paragraphs
Building Blocks: creating core structures and stories
Binders: to make the essay strong and more relevant to the school
Final packaging: Define the essay and explain what’s missing to build further
Let’s dive deeper to understand them in detail so that we can craft a perfect MBA admission essay:

Raw material: Laying the ground by gathering information
Start writing the points that you would like to cover in your essays.

Points should be made for each part

Questions in the essay that need to be addressed
Examples that you want to give (with learning)
Your achievements or awards
Qualities/skills that you want to highlight from this essay
Activities, programs, clubs, immersions, exchange schools, electives, etc. for that school
List down all the points for each part that come to your mind. Also, don’t list everything in one go. Make a list, then keep adding and re-iterating to build it further until you are satisfied. It’s hard to remember everything when you are forcing your mind at one time, sometimes things come to your mind later or any other time while you are doing something else. Make a list on your phone using any notes app that can be synced across devices like OneNote and keep adding anytime something comes to your mind.

Game of associations: Linking different materials together
This will help you to find your segments or chunks that will have their own story to tell. You would have done matching the columns at every stage of your life whether it was a primary school, high school, college, or any other education. It shouldn’t be difficult!

Write down the points in these 5 columns and then start associating the first four columns with each other. Check what falls where and how they are linked. You will be surprised to see that things will start falling in place smoothly and you will have a few stories come out of it. Remember that only for the first column (column a: questions that need to be addressed), every value should be associated with at least one element from other columns. The reason being, we just cannot leave any point from the question unanswered. Once you have the associations done, construct the chunks or blocks individually to have your stories. These are your core blocks.

Building blocks: Creating core blocks and structures
Now you have the pieces to a puzzle that needs to be solved and assembled correctly to paint the right picture of your profile. If you put or place them wrongly, the right picture cannot be visualized. Now, these core blocks need some cement and layers to stick them together to form the structure. You would have done sequence questions in GMAT where you need to arrange the order of sentences. Though there can be multiple options that would make sense, you need to find the perfect flow. So start testing out with combinations and see which one fits perfectly.

While you are doing these combinations, pay close attention to the layering among the blocks. The flow between these blocks or paragraphs should be seamless and there shouldn’t be any abruptness. Each paragraph should naturally lead to the other story. While in some cases it might be really hard to do, try to use superficial simple connectors in that case, which means just stating a line at the end of the previous paragraph which talks about what’s coming next. This can be done maybe 1 or maximum 2 times, the rest of the time, the flow should be smooth.

Once you have done that, you have the core of your essay ready.

Binders: Adding binders to make the essay strong and relevant
Binders are something that will make the essay structure stronger, personalized, and relevant to what is being asked implicitly. This will come from your 5th column. You don’t need to use all the things that you listed in the column, just use the ones which work best and gel well with the blocks. Implicitly, the school also wants to know how they can fit your story or how the MBA experience at that specific school would be of help to you. And, more importantly, how you can be of help to the school as well. Binders are things like attaching different aspects of the school in your stories and chunks. Find the relevant one from your binder list and sprinkle them at the right places. And then be bold, honest, and dream big to build on to them further. Don’t get disheartened if you cannot find enough information from the school website or the alumni. Make assumptions based on your knowledge and research and suggest what you think. But don’t just do it without research, do as much as you can and then assume what you cannot find. The Adcoms are looking for passion, intent, and purpose rather than specific details. This is the area where you can think freely.

Final Packaging: Giving a preface and a forward-looking end
After your core is ready, it’s very important to package it properly and use the right philosophy to explain the story. What this means is a very strong and coherent introduction and a forward-looking ending. Think of the introduction as the foundation of the structure. This should lay the background of what’s coming in the essay. The introduction should create interest, provide a preface, and paint the backdrop of your story.

Lastly, the ending is something that is on top of your structure and it should be something that is open and forward-looking. Basically, the idea to portray is that you can build on further on this structure and it’s not the end. Your structure is in the making and you are open to absorb more things to build it further which are an MBA course, different career post MBA, experiences that you will have during and after the MBA. So, keep your ending forward-looking and open for absorption. Basically, this will allow you to show your story in a way that an MBA and your post-MBA plans are the pieces that you are looking for.

These were the 5 steps you can take to structure your MBA admission essay for any applications. If you take this approach and practice it over time with different applications and in any other aspects of your life as well, it would help you to develop your thinking ability.

Structuring your thoughts is key in communication whether you are delivering an essay, a presentation or just explaining any situation. It helps the other person to easily visualize what you are trying to say. This is my tip, if you are applying to schools, you are probably going to write more than 15–20 essays or questions, so why not develop a skill along with. Structured thinking is one of the aspects of writing essays, there are multiple other aspects to explore like visualization, storytelling, personalization, etc. but definitely it is the starting and most crucial step.

 
 

Thanks for sharing, very helpful tips. So far I'm only trying to cope with this task myself, so I'm grateful for any recommendations. Before that, I couldn't write an essay even on the simplest topic and used the best essay writing service in usa, I just had to choose a company that suits me from this list. But today I’m trying to cope on my own and really want to do everything step by step, as you recommend.

 
Most Helpful

The approach to writing "Structural Thinking" is quite difficult and not everyone can afford it. But I would recommend you to make your own writing plan and structure all the work before writing, it helps me personally. But if you don't succeed, you can go to papersowl.com. These guys will write your essay very quickly and efficiently, they are true professionals. I myself have often used their services, so I recommend from personal experience.

 

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