Convey a Confident Tone and Avoid Fawning in Your MBA Application Essays

In your MBA application essays, you must ensure that the tone you use allows the admissions committee to readily recognize your certainty and self-confidence. Being clear and direct about who you are and how you envision your future is vital. Consider these example statements:

Weak: “I now have adequate work experience and hope to pursue an MBA.”

Strong: “Through my work experience, I have gained both breadth and depth, providing me with a solid, practical foundation for pursuing my MBA.”


Weak: “I now want to pursue an MBA.”

Strong: “I am certain that now is the ideal time for me to pursue my MBA.”


Weak: “I have good quantitative skills and will succeed academically.”

Strong: “I have already mastered the quantitative skills necessary to thrive in my MBA studies.”


Weak: “With my MBA, I hope to establish myself as a leader.”

Strong: “I am certain that with my MBA, I will propel myself to the next levels of leadership.”

The key in all these examples is the use of language that clearly projects self-confidence. Instead of “hope,” use “will”; rather than saying you have “good” skills, show “mastery.” Although you should avoid sounding arrogant, of course, by being assertive and direct, you will inspire confidence in your reader and make a more positive impression.

Your target MBA programs certainly want to know that you identify with them. However, this does not need to be a running theme throughout your essays or application. Unless a business school explicitly requests this kind of information—for example, by asking what you are most passionate about and how that passion will positively affect the school—we generally recommend that candidates only discuss their connection with their target MBA program via their personal statements (“What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will [our school] allow you to achieve them?”).

For example, in response to a school’s question about leadership or putting knowledge into action, you would not need to discuss how the school will help you further develop your leadership skills or how you will continue to be an active learner when you are a member of the next incoming class, even though these topics reflect core values that each school embraces. Although we cannot assert this as an absolute, we find that in most cases, such statements come across as insincere or fawning—the very opposite of the effect you want.

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