The Olin MBA admissions essay: Focusing on what makes your experience and values unique

  • June 10, 2024
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

Every student applying to an MBA program wants to be seen as exceptional in some way.

Without appearing as a vain Hercules on paper, there are methods to convey value as a prospective student without resorting to worn clichés or unsubstantiated claims.  

Olin Business School places a high value on equity, diversity, and inclusion. They believe a diverse student body is beneficial to all MBA students. A student's life experiences can make them a valuable member of Olin's student body and the way they communicate their experience matters. Here are four MBA application essay tips that have helped prospective students get accepted into Olin Business School.

They don't use AI

It might sound tempting to use AI to make essays sound professional; however, let's discuss how AI operates. AI functions by mining the internet for content, which it then repurposes into (supposedly) new forms. If this seems a lot like plagiarism, that's because it's a legal gray area that has not yet been fully reconciled with existing legal definitions of plagiarism.

Since AI uses existing content as a model, the essay it produces may sound bland and uninspired. A student's voice and personality may not shine through as much. If a student wants to stand out in the MBA admission process, they will need to sound wholly original to themselves.

They show (rather than tell) their story

Besides ensuring the MBA admission essay communicates how a student prevents errors from slipping by undetected, this is an opportunity for them to narrate their life and be creative.

An essay prompt is presented in the online application, giving prospective students an opportunity to share their values, strengths and weaknesses. The essay is their time to provide the committee with a narrative and showcase their creativity and the impact they hope to have on those around them. They should use this opportunity to tell their story, allowing the committee to see the person they are and the person they hope to become. Students should demonstrate how they are living out their values with real-life examples. They must ask themselves, "What can I bring to Olin that no one else can?" and communicate this with confidence.

They demonstrate why they chose Olin

When a prospective student is writing, they should focus on why the MBA program at Olin can help them achieve their goals and how Olin Business School can help them make the impact they're aiming to make on the world. Every student should take time to reflect on what they hope to get out of an MBA degree and determine what factors are most important to the program they intend to pursue.

They don't use generic templates

No matter how many MBA programs a student may wish to apply to, they should write a new essay for each program from scratch. They shouldn't rely on a generic template and simply change a few words.

Students should slow down and spend ample time writing something unique—it makes a big difference. The evaluators of MBA admission essays can easily detect a generic essay, as it often lacks relevance and focus.

It's easy to discern whether prospective students have thoroughly contemplated their MBA admission essay or merely checked it off their to-do list. If they are unsure whether their essay reads well or aligns with the prompt, they should ask someone they trust to read their essay. Then, they should ask this person to tell them what they assumed the prompt was. Their response will help the student determine if their essay is aligned with the prompt or if adjustments are needed.  

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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