Applicants to the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business (learn a little more about the program here) must submit two required essays, the first of which constitutes, in many ways, a traditional personal statement. The second, shorter essay takes a more creative and personal spin, inviting candidates to present a list of facts about themselves that they would like to share with their future Sheller classmates. Interestingly, unlike the other MBA programs we feature in our essay analyses, Scheller measures essay length in characters rather than words, with the maximum of 4,000 characters (including spaces) for its first essay equaling roughly four to five paragraphs, and 1,000 for the second representing just one or two. The program also offers applicants the opportunity to write an optional essay about either a potential issue in their profile that they would like to explain or a facet of their candidacy they believe the admissions committee should be aware of to be able to evaluate them fully. Together, Scheller’s suite of application essays appears to give candidates room to present a nicely rounded image of themselves for consideration. Read on for our full analyses of the school’s essay prompts for this season.
Required Essay: Why an MBA and why Georgia Tech?
Describe how your experiences, both professional and personal, have led you to the decision to pursue an MBA at Georgia Tech. Discuss your short- and long-term career goals and how Georgia Tech is best suited to help you achieve your goals. 4,000 character maximum (including spaces).
With this rather straightforward essay prompt, Scheller is requesting very fundamental—yet incredibly important—information that will help the school understand your motivation for pursuing an MBA from its program and where you expect to go in your career afterward. Be as specific as possible in your description of where you see yourself after graduation and several years down the line, from the industry and role to any additional details about which you currently feel confident (perhaps even specific companies or responsibilities that appeal to you in particular). Explain what has brought you to this point in your professional life, not only your career progression to date but also what has inspired you to earn an advanced degree as a vital tool in moving forward.
In addition to outlining your career goals—including context for how you arrived at them and why they are realistic for you—you must illustrate how Scheller will help you pursue these goals by demonstrating a thorough understanding of what the school offers and a well-thought-out game plan for availing yourself of these offerings. To effectively do this and write a reasoned, nuanced essay, you must first familiarize yourself with Scheller’s various resources and pinpoint those that truly pertain to you and the direction in which you hope to head. Go the extra mile in learning about the school. This is where we would normally encourage you to visit campus and sit in on a class, and/or at least attend an admissions event in your area, but the ongoing pandemic precludes such options at this time. Instead, connect directly with students and alumni (online or via phone, Skype, Zoom, etc.), read student blogs and the program’s recent press releases, and peruse Scheller’s YouTube channel. This will provide the kind of in-depth insight that will show the admissions committee you are serious about the school and are confident you belong there. Simply presenting a list of classes and clubs you think sound interesting will not suffice, and absolutely avoid vague, pandering statements about how great the school is. You must reveal clear connections between your aspirations, what you need to achieve them (e.g., skills, experience[s], connections, exposure), and what Scheller in particular can provide that will enable you to fill those gaps.
This prompt covers several basic elements of a typical MBA personal statement. We therefore encourage you to download your free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide. This complimentary guide offers detailed advice on approaching and framing these subjects, along with multiple illustrative examples.
Required Essay: Ten Facts
List 10 facts about yourself that will help your future classmates get to know you. 1,000 character maximum (including spaces).
The Scheller admissions committee offers basically no clarifying text before its straightforward request for ten introductory facts. As a result, you have a largely blank slate from which to begin here, but because the purported audience for your list is your “future classmates” (though the true audience is of course the admissions committee), you should likely steer away from basic aspects of your story covered in your resume, transcript, and recommendations. In our experience, the less guidance a program provides with its essay prompts, the more panic is generated in the hearts of hopeful applicants, but do not let yourself be intimidated. Some patience, self-reflection, brainstorming, and authenticity—with a dash of creativity—and you should be on the road to a standout submission.
To start identifying the kind of information you could share in your list, think about what you would like to know about a person you are first meeting and that you would find interesting, helpful, or intriguing. For example, would you consider someone’s age or undergraduate institution particularly important or compelling? Probably not, so you should skip including such facts. (Remember, again, that your actual audience will be a member of the admissions committee, who will already know such basic information about you from the rest of your application.) You would likely be more curious about what someone does in their spare time, what interesting or exceptional skills they have, whether they are approachable/funny/hyperorganized/a risk taker/etc., whether they have extensive experience in a certain area or a more wide-ranging background, what unique or rare accomplishments they can claim, and so on.
So consider the aspects of your personality and profile that you believe truly define you as an individual—not just what you do and have done, but who you are—and fully explore your background, hobbies, talents, experiences, values, goals, and quirks. Brainstorm an extensive list and then eliminate any items that seem too common (e.g., a BA in finance) or basic (e.g., your hometown) until you have a collection of truly distinctive qualities you can use in your response. Your goal is to provide a well-rounded picture of yourself that draws from multiple areas and shows that you possess characteristics and/or knowledge that would make you a positive addition to the Scheller community.
Remember to bring personality and life to your submission. You are not filling out a job application—you are trying to connect with others, so charisma is welcome, and a less rigid and traditionally “professional” approach is okay. Be as natural and authentic as possible, and strive to ensure that each new fact you offer gives the admissions committee a different window into your personality, into what really makes you you. Do not pitch your candidacy, outline your career goals, or express your love for the program. As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression, so dedicate the time and effort necessary to ensure that your list is engaging, substantive, and true to who you are.
Optional Essay: The Admissions Committee believes that the required essays address issues that help us learn about you and understand your candidacy for the MBA program; however, you may provide us with any additional information pertinent to your admission that has not been previously covered in the rest of the application. Feel free to discuss any unique aspects of your candidacy or any perceived weaknesses. 4,000 character maximum (including spaces).
We tend to believe that the best use of the optional essay is to explain confusing or problematic issues in your candidacy, and this prompt offers an opportunity to do just that. But Scheller does not stipulate that you can only discuss a problem area in this essay, so you have some leeway to share anything you feel is that you think may be pivotal or particularly compelling. So, if you need to, this is your chance to address any questions an admissions officer might have about your profile—a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, a gap in your work experience, etc. In our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, we offer detailed advice on how best to take advantage of the optional essay, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any problem areas in your application.
However, because the question can be interpreted rather broadly, it does open the door for you to discuss anything that is not addressed elsewhere in your application and that you feel is truly critical for the admissions committee to know to be able to evaluate you fully and effectively. We caution you about simply trying to fill this space because you fear that not doing so would somehow count against you. Remember, by submitting an additional essay, you are asking the admissions committee to do extra work on your behalf, so you need to make sure that time is warranted. If you are using the essay to emphasize something that if omitted would render your application incomplete, take this opportunity to write a very brief narrative that reveals this key new aspect of your candidacy.