In their application essays, many business school candidates unwittingly discuss their personal experience with a specific MBA program in the most vague and general way. Because they are writing from memory and discussing their authentic experience, they do not realize that they are not being specific enough. Consider the following example:
“During my experience at Cornell, I was struck by the easygoing classroom discussion, the warmth of the professors and the time spent by the first-year student who not only toured the facilities with me, but also took me for coffee and asked several of his colleagues to join us.”
While these statements may in fact be true, the text contains no Cornell-specific language. If Yale, Michigan or the name of any other school were substituted for Cornell here, the statement would otherwise not change at all. This statement could be applicable to any other school—and this is not good.
In contrast, the following statement could refer only to Darden:
“While on Grounds, I was impressed by Professor Robert Carraway’s easygoing and humorous style, as he facilitated a fast-paced discussion of the ‘George’s T-Shirts’ case. Although I admittedly felt dizzied by the class’s pace, I was comforted when I encountered several students reviewing the finer points of the case later at First Coffee. I was impressed when my first-year guide stopped mid-tour to check in with her learning teammate and reinforce the case’s central point. It was then I recognized that this was the right environment for me.”
If you were to substitute the Darden name and even the professor’s name with those of another school and professor, the paragraph would no longer work. The Darden-specific information regarding the day’s case, First Coffee and learning teams ensures that these sentences have a sincere and personal feel—showing that the candidate truly understands what the school is about, and necessary for a compelling personal statement that will catch the attention of the admissions committee.