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Monday Morning Essay Tip: Be Mindful of Arrogance

Business school candidates often fret about striking the right balance between confidence and arrogance in their application essays. For example, you might have difficulty choosing the better choice from between the following statements:

Example 1: “At the Stanford GSB, I will take advantage of the newly designed curriculum to…”

Example 2: “At the Stanford GSB, I would take advantage of the newly designed curriculum to…”

Or between these statements:

Example 1: “After completing my MBA at Harvard Business School, I will pursue a career in…”

Example 2: “After completing my MBA at Harvard Business School, I would aspire to a career in…”

In each set of examples, the choice is essentially between certainty (“I will”) and diplomacy (“I would”). You might ask yourself whether the first option in each set of examples is too presumptuous or the second one too weak. In fact, neither is definitively “right”; each candidate must choose an approach that is consistent with his/her personality. However, maintaining consistency is vital. Choose one approach and carry it throughout your essay(s)—mixing the two styles is distracting to the reader and can seem sloppy.




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