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Monday Morning Essay Tip: Own Your Story

Many business school candidates unwittingly start their essays with platitudes—obvious or trite remarks written as though they were original. For example, when responding to the essay question, “Tell us about a time when you made a difficult decision,” an applicant might mistakenly write the following:

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

The applicant does not “own” this idea and cannot lay claim to this statement. A simple alternative would be to insert his/her personal experience and viewpoint into the sentence:

“I found myself back in the boardroom with Steve, anticipating that yet again, he would change his mind on the mbaMission file.”

By discussing your personal and unique experiences, you demonstrate ownership of your story while engaging your 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 in creating a compelling message.



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