Paragraph 1 A good introductory paragraph. This summarizes the next couple of paragraphs and also has a certain intriguing appeal – it arouses the reader’s curiosity and impels him to read further. The first sentence, however, could easily have been dropped – the second sentence would make a more compelling introduction to the essay.
Paragraph 2 Here the writer develops on the thread of diversity. Note that there is an emphasis on aspects that are important to an MBA course (strong analytical skills, math skills, work experience). The writer shows effectively that she has not been ‘wasting her time’ – besides earning a degree, she has earned valuable work experience and done something for the environment. Volunteer work is a strong advantage while applying to an MBA course – universities love people with a social conscience! (To a lesser degree, this is true if you’re applying to other graduate courses as well, as long as you show that your primary interest, now and in the future, is in the field you are applying to). At the same time, it is important that this experience appears genuine – so before making tall claims, make sure that you can substantiate them, preferably by actually doing some volunteer / social work. The last sentence ties the paragraph together. The argument ‘my experiences have shaped me’ is invaluable IF you have strong or unusual life experiences and in some cases can also partially compensate for an average or below-average academic record.
Paragraph 3 We come to a shift in focus with this paragraph. The writer wraps up the ‘diversity’ thread well. Saying that she has a diversity of experience to offer, ‘among other things’, is a good idea – it implies that there is much more to her, qualities and assets that could not be described here because of space limitations It might have been a better idea to begin the next topic – ‘most important achievement’ in a new paragraph. The abrupt change of subject has a slightly disconcerting effect here.
Paragraph 4 While this paragraph is ostensibly an introduction to the problem handled by the writer, it also makes two points, subtly – 1) she had been working in the family firm on a continuous basis and kept her eyes open to spot an area of improvement, 2) she is familiar with popular software packages and very comfortable with a PC.
Paragraph 5 The first sentence risks sounding slightly pompous, but the writer’s earnestness comes through after reading the paragraph as a whole.
Paragraph 6 Comes across as systematic, organized and thorough. Good qualities for any graduate applicant.
Paragraph 7 This paragraph shows considerable maturity and learning from the event. A problem is not solved when you have a solution for it – implementing the solution is usually the biggest hurdle. Also, she realizes that company-wide changes rarely yield instant results, and must be followed up over a period of time to evaluate their effects. The last two sentences show that this project also had an effect on the company management’s thinking.
Paragraph 8 Reflective paragraph on what she has gained from the project. She certainly seems to have been the driving force behind the project and it’s an impressive achievement. It might have been a good idea, though, to put in a line or two about how she learned to co-ordinate between various entities to get her job done. Good ending paragraph.
This is a mature, well-written application essay. Some of the ideas here are gold mines for other essays – describing how she founding and helping run FOE could be a whole essay by itself, and can be used to show how she used leadership and team skills (see Essay 5 – coming soon). Her experience in assisting in the implementation of an ERP system can also be used as an example of team skills and project management skills. MBA applicants have to write a number of essays for each school. It helps to have a bank of experiences to draw on. Writing a series of essays also means that you can afford to have a limited scope for each essay, and go a little deeper. We do feel, however, that this essay was a tad too limited on the ‘candid description’ of the writer.
Diversity of experiences is an excellent point to make, but one more paragraph on other aspects of the writer’s personality would have strengthened the essay. Each application essay should answer the question asked in full. Note, however, that this writer says nothing about any liabilities that might influence graduate work. We have a tricky issue here – must you mention some liabilities just because the question asks for them? Here the writer chooses to ignore them and concentrates on qualities that will be an asset for graduate work. It might have paid off in this case because the essay basically asks, ‘How well are you suited for graduate work’. In an essay question of the type, ‘Discuss your strengths and weaknesses’ such a strategy would not work. Nevertheless, it’s a tough choice to make