On its site, Esade states, “We deliberately limit the number of places on our MBA programme to ensure that your Esade Business School experience is focused and personalised. As a result, competition for places is intense.” We would add that the process of completing its application is also rather intense, considering that candidates must write multiple essays on a variety of topics, when most MBA programs have been cutting back on the number and lengths of their essays in recent years. Be ready to do a lot of brainstorming, introspection, and research—and a decent amount of writing. Read on for our full analysis of all the school’s prompts for this season.
ESADE 2023–2024 Essay Tips
Short Answer 1: Are you applying to other Schools? Please provide detail of Schools and Programmes. This information is for our own records; it will not affect the Admissions Committee’s decision. Maximum 255 characters (including spaces).
This is really just a straightforward request for information, so simply present the information Esade wants clearly and directly, with no extraneous verbiage. As the school notes in the prompt, your response will not have any effect on your chances of being accepted (or denied), so you do not need to overthink this.
Short Answer 2: Did you learn about this programme through an Alumnus recommendation? If so please provide us with the name and graduation year. Maximum 255 characters (including spaces).
This prompt is another straightforward request. Again, simply convey the information the school is seeking: the name of the alumnus or alumna, their graduation year, and perhaps which program they completed, especially if it is different from the basic full-time MBA.
Essay 1: Which aspects have you improved on during your academic and professional career so far? Which tools or values have helped you achieve this? (Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces)
With this question, Esade wants to know what you already bring to the table, so to speak, perhaps in part to get an idea of your potential not only in your stated area of interest but also in the other areas you might not have considered but could be just as successful. This is also a chance for you to demonstrate that you understand what is required of someone in the professional role or industry you are targeting and have the self-awareness to know which of those requirements you might already meet. Highlight the specific skills you have developed and the knowledge you have acquired that you feel represent your strengths. To fulfill the latter portion of Esade’s request, pinpoint the qualities you possess that have helped you in your development. Were you raised to be ambitious or intellectually curious, perhaps? Are you a quick learner who uses logic and deduction to intuitively master new concepts and tools? What aspects of yourself personally (whether innate characteristics or learned behaviors) have facilitated your growth?
Essay 2: How will your background, values and non-work-related activities enhance the experience of other ESADE MBA students and add to the diverse culture we strive for at ESADE? (Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have accomplished). (Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces)
With this essay prompt, Esade clearly wants to see evidence that you have done your research on the school’s culture and community and developed a true and thorough understanding of it. Ideally, your essay will convince the admissions committee that you are eager to take advantage of opportunities to participate and contribute, that you have thoughtfully considered your place within the school’s community at length, and that as a result, you know the value of what you can offer and have a clear vision of how this will manifest when you are an Esade student. If you hypothesize incorrectly about what you could add to the school—meaning that what you propose is just not possible there or does not align with the program’s values and culture—this will definitely not help you get in. Read student blogs, peruse discussion boards, catch up on the past year or more of the program’s press releases, spend some time on Esade’s YouTube channel—these are all good places to start (or better, continue!) educating yourself about what life at the school is really like.
By not specifying that what you discuss should relate strictly to either inside or outside the classroom, the admissions committee keeps the scope of the query broad, offering you equal opportunity to discuss ideas that relate to course work and those that are extracurricular. Perhaps, for example, you could assist in writing a case on a topic that relates to your professional background and that will be used in future classes for several years. Or maybe you have a depth of knowledge or years of professional experience in a particular business area or industry, so you could serve as a kind of subject matter expert for those around you in the program or as a valuable component in someone’s recruiting network. If you are particularly funny, creative, or athletic, you might be the ideal fit to lead an extracurricular group or play a significant role in a nonacademic project or event. Like all other application questions, this one has no “right” answer, so do not try to guess what you think the school wants to hear. Authenticity and enthusiasm are the keys to your success with this essay.
Another tool to help you gain a more thorough understanding of what the school offers is our free ESADE Program guide, which explores its curriculum, campuses, international opportunities, and other key aspects. Download your complimentary copy today!
Essay 3: What are your motivations in pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life? Describe your mid-term and long-term visions for your post-MBA career path. What is it about ESADE you think will help you reach your goals? (Maximum 3000 characters, including spaces)
Your essay response to this prompt will include several key factors of a traditional personal statement: what your post-MBA career goals are, why you need an MBA to be successful at this particular point on your professional path, and why the school you are applying to is the right one for you.
To craft an effective essay response, you will need to accomplish a few things (though not necessarily in the order we list them here). One, present your post-MBA career objectives for a few years down the road as well as in the more distant future, making sure that the connection between them makes sense. Avoid going into excessive detail about your past, but be sure to offer enough information to provide context and support for your stated goals so that the progression from one stage of your career to the next is clear and reasonable. Two, explain why an MBA is the crucial factor in your being able to attain your objectives. A good way to frame this argument is by noting the skills and experiences you need to develop via the MBA experience to be successful in your desired role/industry (thereby demonstrating your understanding of what will be required of you). Three, clarify what makes now the right time for you to earn this degree. And four, explain how being an Esade MBA student is key to achieving your goals.
You need to demonstrate that you have dedicated just as much thought—or maybe even more—to why you want to study at Esade as you have to where you want to go professionally. Think carefully about what you need to learn or experience (e.g., skills, network, knowledge base), and then detail which specific resources and opportunities at Esade you believe will allow you to do so. Your goal is to convince the admissions committee that the school is the missing link between who and where you are now and who and where you envision yourself in the future.
The school’s limit of 3,000 characters (with spaces) translates into anywhere from 425 to 750 words, which is not a lot, but you can absolutely cover all the necessary points in that space with enough forethought and planning. We encourage you to download your free copy of our mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which offers a detailed discussion of how to craft an effective essay response to such queries, along with multiple illustrative examples.
Essay 4: Complete two of the following four questions or statements (Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces)
– I am most proud of…
This essay option offers you the opportunity to offer the narrative of an outstanding or personally significant accomplishment. We emphasize “narrative” here, because you must truly describe the full nature and story of your experience, not just bluntly state the accomplishment itself. Many candidates will start their essay with a sentence that gives away their entire story, such as “I am most proud of having convinced my boss to implement a new retirement savings plan for all firm employees.” Where do you go from there? Once the story’s most important revelations have been presented, no mystery exists, so maintaining the reader’s attention becomes very difficult—as does writing the remainder of the essay!
To better set yourself apart from other candidates, consider choosing something for which your reason for feeling proud might not be immediately apparent. For example, anyone would be proud of growing revenues by a large percentage or landing a prestigious account, so these options would not reveal as much about you as a unique individual with your own style. Or, pick something about which anyone would be proud, but the reason you were proud was different from what someone might expect. As a simplified example, if you used your great-grandmother’s cookie recipe to win a baking contest, you might be proud of having beat out numerous competitors for the top prize, but you might also be proud of the win because it gave you a greater appreciation for family and ancestors, or it imbued you with confidence that then inspired you to start a small bake shop.
However, you could also take a different approach and discuss a personal characteristic or ability about which you are proud. Perhaps you take great pride in your reputation for staying calm and focused in trying situations. Or maybe you have an impressive talent or ability that not only allows you to stand out but also to give back to others in a meaningful way. Another possibility might be your unshakable commitment to a value or belief system. Whatever you choose, make sure of two things—first, that you discuss not just what you are proud of but also why, and second, that it reveals for the admissions committee more about who you are as an individual and complements the information provided in the other parts of your application.
b) People may be surprised to learn that I…
Stop now and consider what the admissions officers will already know about you at this point from the other elements of your application. They will probably have read your resume and thus gotten a sense of your career path to date. Your other essays should have provided an understanding of your goals and why you want to study at Esade. The admissions committee might have had some brief glimpses into your personality through these avenues, but this essay is your overt opportunity to provide a better sense of your character.
The key word in this question is of course “surprised.” Although you certainly want to offer something unexpected, you do not want that surprise to be unpleasant. “Surprise” should not be taken to mean “shocked.” Do not think you need to totally revolutionize the admissions committee’s understanding of who you are.
Also, do not worry if you do not have something earth-shattering to reveal, such as having climbed Mount Everest or learned to build a car engine from scratch in just a month. You are not expected to knock the admissions committee off its feet—Esade just wants to get to know you better by learning about an interesting aspect of your life. Perhaps you spent a summer volunteering at a butterfly farm in Peru, helped pay your sister’s way through college, taught yourself American Sign Language just for fun, or are passionate about flamenco dancing; these are all suitable stories, and one is not necessarily better than the other. What is important is that you offer a narrative that engages the reader and showcases something new and unpredictable about yourself.
c) What has your biggest challenge been and what did it help you learn about yourself?
Although this is a rather direct prompt, some candidates might shy away from choosing this option because most people do not like to admit when they have been knocked down, made mistakes, or had to struggle. But Esade wants to know that you are a real person—that you have some hard-won victories under your belt and have had to fight to some degree to get to where you are today. If you have simply been coasting along, with no cause to develop any coping mechanisms or adapt yourself in some way, we can pretty safely predict that you are not Esade material.
For this essay, you could discuss a challenge from any area of your life. It could be a professional setback or obstacle, an influential personal matter (e.g., overcoming family expectations), or a problem as narrow as difficulty developing a certain skill. The challenge you choose to highlight is not nearly as important as your ownership of it, meaning that the situation or event you discuss needs to clearly be unique to you and would not be easily applicable to multiple other candidates.
The other crucial element of this essay is demonstrating that you learned something key from the experience. Esade wants evidence that you are capable of reflecting, learning, and growing, so do not gloss over this part or offer a trite or clichéd statement as a kind of afterthought. And specifically, you must share that you learned something about yourself. So, claiming that you gained a new skill, for example, would not constitute an appropriate response. You will need to delve more deeply into how your understanding of yourself changed and clearly explain what the experience brought out in you that you had not known about yourself before. Your unique thoughts on this point can differentiate you from other applicants, and showing that you recognize how the experience or issue affected you—and has thereby contributed to the person you are today—demonstrates your self-awareness and capacity for growth.
d) Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
Although you will be discussing another person for this essay, the aspects of your chosen figure that you highlight will help convey to the Esade admissions committee who you are. We assume that you would not choose an individual who is generally regarded as an unsavory character (or worse), right? The specific qualities, values, and/or strengths you highlight in your chosen figure will reflect to some degree which characteristics you view positively (e.g., ones that are commendable, impressive, honorable, deserving of respect, appealing, worthy of emulating).
Like all application essay questions, this one does not have a “right” answer, so do not spend any time or effort trying to guess who the admissions committee wants or expects you to pick. Authenticity is key to your success with this essay, so start by thinking of people who really do resonate with you—who elicit a strong response from you in some key way. Then identify the qualities in these figures that correspond most closely with your own view of yourself and describe what kind of feelings these qualities elicit (which will help illustrate the why behind your choice). This essay is a great opportunity to share with the admissions committee aspects of your personality and profile that you have not been able to include in the other parts of your application. Focus on highlighting qualities that you feel would indicate that you are a good fit with the Esade community or that set you apart from other candidates—or ideally, both.
Essay 5: Please, provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include gaps in employment, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT or any other relevant information. (Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces)
This essay is not explicitly noted as being optional, but the prompt certainly reads that way to us. In general, we believe applicants should use this kind of essay to explain confusing or problematic issues in their candidacy, which this prompt does indeed allow. So, if you need to, use this opportunity to address any questions the admissions committee might have about something in your profile, such as a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, or a gap in your work experience. We encourage you to download a free copy of our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice (and multiple annotated examples) on how best to approach the optional essay to mitigate any problem areas in your application.
Technically, though, ESADE leaves the door open for you to share any other information about your candidacy that you feel might be pivotal or particularly compelling. Be judicious in deciding whether the admissions committee truly needs any more input to be able to evaluate you fully and effectively. Every additional submission demands that the admissions committee do extra work on your behalf, so be absolutely sure that the added time is warranted. If you feel compelled to impart information that you believe would render your application incomplete if omitted, do so, but keep your submission concise, direct, and on point.