Anyone who has ever applied to college, or even some high schools, know how nerve wracking writing an admission essay is. Not only do you have to make sure to use your best grammar and language, but you have to manage to set yourself apart from the thousands of other people who are vying for that single spot. As bad as that is, though, writing one for even higher education, like an MBA, is undoubtedly worse. Part of that is due to the simple fact that admission, or denial, into a good MBA program will have a heavy impact on your life, while the other part is due to the sheer number of applicants versus the number of available spots. Here are the top 5 recommendations for writing an essay to apply for an MBA program:

1. Know Yourself, the School, and the Program
One of the things people do not take the time to do is to do a little reflecting and self-research before undertaking their admissions essay. The whole idea of most admissions essay is to give the committee an inside view of you. Stacy Blackman, president of Stacy Blackman Consulting in Los Angeles, says “The essays are windows into who you are as a person, your heart.”

Aside from knowing yourself, though, you need to have at least a passing knowledge of the school and its culture. For instance, if you are not a particularly religious person, you would probably not fit into the culture of a religion-based school. Though that is an extreme example, and not one many people would attempt, the general idea remains the same for all schools. Each has its own feeling, its own way of doing things, and if you can demonstrate in your essay how you would fit in you typically have a better shot of actually being accepted.

Be familiar with the program you are applying for. Know how each class can benefit you, and add that to your paper as well. Take the time to research specific programs and be able to relate them to either past job experience, or what you hope to do in the future.

2. Make it Personal and Interesting
According to, one of the most important things you can do in an MBA admissions essay is to keep your essay both personal and interesting. Anybody can assert that they have learned a particular lesson, but only you have learned it in the way you have. Use your own personal stories to back up the things you are trying to convey. This keeps readers entertained while giving them the in-depth view of your character that they want.

Along with the content, though, is the way you express it. Keep your sentences varied rather than using the same sentence format through the entire thing. Also, use transitions and active voice verbs. If your essay seems flat to you, then it will likely seem flat to the admission committee as well.

3. Be Honest and Specific
Yes, you need to elucidate on your strengths and weaknesses. Being able to do so shows the readers that you can be honest with yourself as well as with higher authorities. While doing so, though, remember to add details. Instead of simply saying, “I have a wonderful way with the people placed under me in a professional setting,” tell the committee of a specific example of when you showed this characteristic, and what you gained from the experience.

When relating weaknesses, remember not to dwell on them. Show how you are pushing through each one, and word each entry with the intent to keep the readers looking forward at your potential future rather than what you have displayed in the past.

4. Stay Focused on the Question Being Answered
Be careful not to get so tangled up in trying to show your worth that you forget there is a specific question to be answered. Make sure everything you are writing is in illustration of the requested answer. No matter how good the story, if it does not fit with the idea of the essay, you need to not add it.

5. Seek Multiple Opinions
Make sure you ask people around you to read your essay and give you their opinions. Make copies and have each person make notes on their copies, or simply have a recorder of some sort handy so you don’t forget what somebody said. As long as any criticism is constructive, it is vitally important and can help you with your end goal.

Though they are undoubtedly difficult to write correctly, admissions essays are something that you simply cannot get around if you are applying to an MBA program. Or just about any other graduate program, for that matter. Since the way they are received is so important to the continued education and job expectancy of each applicant, it is worth the time to do them right.