Ah, the MBA admissions essay. Some aspiring MBA students really do like the idea of writing 2,000-plus words about themselves, their accomplishments, and their goals. Others? Not so much. For them, a range of 250 to 500 words is more than enough, and it looks like more and more business schools are beginning to agree.
According to U.S. News & World Report Education, a number of top B-schools schools have recently trimmed the length of essays. They want future applicant’s to write less and say more, so more time is spent on things like studying for the GMAT, preparing for interviews, and gathering recommendations. Schools like Harvard Business School (HBS) say that the admissions process shouldn’t be an essay-writing contest. So what did HBS do? The school cut the number of application essays from four to just one. And that one essay isn’t even mandatory.
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business took things a step further. Applicants to the MBA program can present their answers in the form of a video presentation. In a BusinessBecause article, Kurt Ahlm, Associate Dean of Student Recruitment and Admissions at Booth, explains that the video presentation option is “meant to provide applicants with opportunities to express their authentic selves. The commercialization of the MBA application process, with essay writing and other admissions services, has muddied the waters.”
Over at Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan the total maximum word count for essays has been cut to 450 words. Per U.S. News Ed., “the admissions team at Ross made the change in part to indicate how much – or little – time applicants should spend on essays.” At Columbia Business School, one essay has been cut from 500 words to a slim and trim 250 words. And at NYU Stern School of Business, the number of required essays has dropped from three to two.
This trend can be seen overseas too. The prestigious London Business School (LBS) says it made changes to help the school to attract the very best candidates. The school slashed its essay count from a hefty six to just one. And the required word count for that one essay? Just 500.
Some admissions directors say that it doesn’t take 2,000 words to understand whom an applicant is and what they want to do. Others say that lowering the word count forces applicant’s to be more succinct and direct in their writing. Focused writing is a skill that’s valued in the classroom and in the real world. Still, as mentioned, others say applicants are spending too much time on essays and not enough time on other weighty parts of the package such as interviews, the GMAT, and recommendation letters.
Whatever the reason some of the top B-Schools schools have joined the cause, aspiring MBAs around the world are breathing a sigh of relief and many B-schools have seen an upsurge in application numbers. Good example: LBS saw its largest class ever in 2016. Enrollment reached 425 students, 70 different nationalities, and a record 708 GMAT average.
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Murray, Seb. "Elite MBA Programs Are Scrapping Their Admissions Essays - This Is Why." BusinessBecause. BusinessBecause, 29 Sept. 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Smith-Barrow, Delece. "5 Tips for Writing a Concise B-School Admissions Essay." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report L.P., 25 June 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Streufert, Billie. "10 Tips for Writing a Grad School Personal Statement." USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 08 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.