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What is an admissions committee’s message or intent behind limiting an “essay” answer to 100, 200, or 300 characters? Just the facts, please. In fact, just the key facts.
No adornment, no backstory, no extended rationale.
Columbia Business School has had a short answer goals question for a few years now; Darden has had a 140-character Tweet question; and now HBS has a couple of these mini-essay questions. Yes, it’s a trend.
In working with clients on such questions, I’ve been struck by how hard providing “just the facts” really is – it’s counterintuitive, it’s letting go. It makes the writer feel, well, a little naked out there. Adornment, backstory, rationale – those are the comfortable “clothes” now in a heap on the floor.
So how do you give the admissions readers what they want – while simultaneously serving your goal of creating a compelling application that differentiates and distinguishes you?
Here are 7 unadorned tips to answer that question:
1. Read the question carefully and weigh each word, to make sure you’re answering the exact question. (Seems obvious, right? But I’ve witnessed many very smart people misread the question or simply disregard the question, with predictable results.)
2. Short doesn’t mean easy. The opposite is often true. Allocate and devote some up-front thinking time to what you’ll say. The fewer words you have, the greater weight each word carries.
3. While brainstorming, decide which 1-3 key points you must convey. Don’t even consider anything else.
4. Also while brainstorming, consider the application overall. These mini-essays must work within a larger whole. For example, if you only have 200 characters to write about your goals, and you’re planning to shift careers, look for other places in the application to indicate that you have relevant skill sets, understand the industry/function, etc.
5. In drafting your essay, write a little over the limit and then pare down. It’s always easier to cut your ideas down than it is to draw out new words once you’ve completed your thoughts.
6. Make sure each word is meaningful. Stick to nouns and verbs. Use short, direct sentences, which allow you to “squeeze” the most out of the limited characters.
7. Avoid repeating the question. If it’s about post-MBA goals, the reader will know what you’re referring to, you don’t have to say, “Post-MBA I plan to…
You know the expression “short and sweet.” Turn brevity to your advantage. A short statement can have great power, propulsion. The key is to do it right.
Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
The post Short And Sweet: Tips For Writing “Mini” MBA Essays appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.
from Accepted Admissions Blog
One of the most popular secondary questions asked by medical schools is “why our program?” Saying why you’re attracted to a particular school can be a hard thing to explain, especially when you’ve looked at so many programs that they’ve all begun to blur. I think that’s why I so often see the same answer: “early clinical exposure, great faculty and learning environment, and opportunities to work overseas and/or in the student-run clinic.” These reasons may all be true, but they come across as if all medical schools are the same. And just like you want them to differentiate you from your competition, they want to know that you’ve taken the time to learn specifically about them.
Here are 3 ways you can go beyond the cookie-cutter response, show that you’ve researched the school, and demonstrate the program’s distinctive appeal for you when writing your secondary essays:
1. Highlight your unique fit
What about this program, and this program alone, matches with your particular interests? If you have been volunteering in an oncology lab and know that Vanderbilt is investigating patient responses to neoadjuvant chemotherapy, then discuss your interest in that field and the special opportunities the school provides. Perhaps even bring up the work of a particular professor or researcher you admire, particularly if you’ve read one of their works. If you want to explore opportunities for medical publishing, then you’ll want to mention Stanford’s interdisciplinary studies and highlight your interest in their other faculties.
2. Explain why “where” is important
Sometimes you might also want to bring in the school’s location and explain why it’s important to your education. For instance, George Washington University’s proximity to Washington, D.C. makes it great for people interested in community health promotion and policy; a busy urban center like Tulane or SUNY Downstate will expose you to diverse patient populations found nowhere else, and are special draws for those interested in fields like infectious disease; and the University of Washington gives students access to rural medicine that few programs can offer. Support systems – family members living nearby, for instance – can also be mentioned (in fact, some schools specifically ask for this information) but in general, don’t make accidents of geography the main focus of this essay.
3. Align your philosophies
Finally, I find that one of the best ways to approach the “Why _____?” secondary question is to try to discover the school’s philosophy and then shape your answers around that. For instance, Yale is renowned for the “Yale System” and takes a lot of pride in their interdisciplinary, non-competitive, self-directed learning approach. Each program is going to have its own philosophy that you’ll discover by exploring their website (as well as talking with alumni, if you have the chance to do that).
Identifying why each school is special is definitely a time-consuming task. However, it might be one of the best ways you spend your time when preparing answers for your secondary essays. While you’re ensuring that you attract the attention of multiple schools, you’re also gaining information you need about them. And when you have to choose between multiple acceptances, you’ll know exactly where you fit.
By Cydney Foote, former administrator at the University of Washington School of Medicine and author of three ebooks about medical education. Cyd has successfully advised medical school and residency applicants since 2001. Want Cyd to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• What NOT to Write in Your Medical School Secondary Application Essays
• How to Create Sizzling Secondary Applications
• How to Get the Most Out of Your Experience Working With A Medical School Admissions Consultant
from Accepted Admissions Blog
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