MBA Essay Advice From John Rice, Founder of Management Leadership for Tomorrow

Lately I’ve been getting lots of calls from old friends and classmates applying to business school and looking for a bit of advice. Some applied during round one and are getting anxious to hear back. They ask me about their chances of admission, and want to know what i think in light of 2009′s economic challenges (check out my new post on that topic). Others are frantically wrapping up round two applications and call with more specific questions. I was in the exact same process last year, and I remember how stressful things feel in the last few days. This is especially true if you’re submitting applications to some of the heavy hitters, whose deadlines are fast approaching (List of MBA Deadlines).

As a result, January is usually one of the hardest times of the year for applicants. Not only are applicants scrambling around to pull their application materials together while also cramming to fine-tune their essays before the deadline but they’re also sitting on pins and needles worrying whether they’ll get in to the schools they applied to in the first round. But the best thing to do now is sit back and relax a little. This is completely normal. I still remember these feelings of anxiety and uncertainly like I had them yesterday, But I still ended up doing really well, so in the end, these feelings were never really all that relevant except for motivating me to work harder. In my opinion however, what was most relevant were the essays. In fact, I consider the essays to be the most significant part of the application by far, and in my experience, the best business school applicants spend a significant amount of time writing so they can develop their stories. Similarly, you should also make sure you’re happy with your essays and hold off on submitting everything until you’re absolutely finished.

That said, the point of this post is to pass along a few final tips on how to ensure you’ve submitted the best possible business school essays possible. The advice actually comes John Rice, an HBS grad, business school admissions guru, and founder of Management Leadership For Tomorrow (MLT, MLT is a national non-profit organization dedicated to developing diverse leaders and professionals, and it is an organization I’m proud to be part of. (As usual, I can never really say enough about how valuable MLT is) I’ll note that John originally posted his information on a website named GottaMentor ( which which was co-founded by his wife Andrea Rice and is a social networking site created for high potential professionals to share information. All the B-school applicants, students, and graduates out there should definitely check it out. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networking sites, Gotta Mentor is geared specifically toward business professionals and “allows you to engage people who will add true value to YOUR career.” Have a look at John’s article below and ionce you finish up the essays, come back and check out Gotta Mentor as well.

Good luck!

Source: Gotta Mentor
Author: John Rice
Title: Business School Essays That Get You In

Here is an excerpt from John’s Article

“One of the most important aspects of applying to business school is understanding how to tell your story in a way that translates your strengths and accomplishments into high potential for positive impact at your target MBA campus and later as a leader over the course of your post-MBA career. Focus the body of your story on articulating and illustrating the following things:

1. What you are passionate about and why, and what that implies for your long-term career goals. Your story should focus on what you want to accomplish in life/why and secondarily how business school fits into that plan. Failing to be introspective and genuine about what you really care about and what you really want to do with your life virtually eliminates the chance that you will tell a unique, memorable, and compelling story. Many applicants make the mistake of …. ” (Click here to see the rest of John’s essays advice)

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 Business School

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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