Monday Morning Essay Tip: How Will You Contribute?

Several business schools pose questions about the unique contributions you can make to their particular programs.

Many candidates unwittingly make the mistake of thinking that they have expressed their contribution by offering a bland, summary statement: “and I will bring my leadership skills to Fuqua.” One of the reasons we prefer to work with candidates “from start to finish” is so we can proactively prevent such problems. Simply relating a story about one of your past leadership experiences and then repeating the main point does not demonstrate that you will make a meaningful contribution to the school. Ideally, you want to go further, explaining how you would apply and use your experience while at the school, and thereby showing a true understanding of your fit with that particular program.

Example 1: “…thus my experience as a stand-up comedian will allow me to bring humor to the Kellogg environment.”

With this statement, the admissions committee is left asking, “How exactly will this applicant bring humor to the environment? Does he really know what our environment is about?” In contrast, consider the following:

Example 2: “….thus my experience as a stand-up comic will prove particularly useful at Kellogg, a dynamic environment where I will be constantly joining new and energetic study teams. I am hopeful that I can use my sense of humor to create more relaxed team environments, helping everyone feel comfortable contributing. However, I intend to use humor judiciously, such as offering an appropriately timed joke to diffuse tense moments during late-night study sessions.”

In Example 2, the writer has applied his personal experience to the Kellogg experience, and has thereby shown a clear connection with the school, proving that he has a true identification with it and an accurate understanding of its nature.

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