Monday Morning Essay Tip: Do Not Start with Platitudes

Platitude (plat’e-tood)

1. Commonplaceness; flatness; dullness
2. A trite or obvious remark, uttered as though it were fresh or original

Many candidates unwittingly start their essays with platitudes. For example, when responding to the HBS essay question “Tell us about a time when you made a difficult decision,” a candidate might mistakenly write the following:

“Managers constantly face difficult decisions. Still, everyone hates indecision.”

The writer doesn’t “own” this idea and can’t lay claim to this statement. A simple alternative would be to insert his or her experience and viewpoint into the sentence:

“Yet again, I was in the boardroom with Steve, anticipating that he would change his mind on the mbaMission file.”

By discussing your unique experiences, you take ownership of your story and engage the reader. Avoiding platitudes and generalities and ensuring that you are sharing your experience, rather than one that could belong to anyone else, is a simple but often overlooked step toward creating a compelling message.

onTrack by mbaMission

A first-of-its-kind, on-demand MBA application experience that delivers a personalized curriculum for you and leverages interactive tools to guide you through the entire MBA application process.

Get Started!

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Deadlines

  • Berkeley Haas (Round 1)

Click here to see the complete deadlines

2024–2025 MBA Essay Tips

Click here for the 2023–2024 MBA Essay Tips

MBA Program Updates

Explore onTrack — mbaMission’s newest offering allowing you to learn at your own pace through video. Learn more