Very recently, a friend’s distant relative (referred to as ROCKSTAR in this note) sent me his essays for review after getting a DING from his dream business school, INSEAD.
Candidate Background: Indian, Male, GMAT 750+, 5 Years of work experience.
As I started picking holes in his MBA application, I realized that his style of expression was representative of many ROCKSTARS with high GMAT Scores and high expectations. They write BELOW AVERAGE RESPONSES FOR “Why Duke”? “Why Wharton?”, “Why Columbia?”, “Why Stanford?”, “Why INSEAD?” And “Why ANY School?
And When INSEAD Dump a “GMAT 750 + 5 Years +ROCKSTAR”, the ROCKSTAR wonders what went wrong when the facts are “INSEAD’s Average GMAT Score is 703 and majority of the MBA applicants had 3-7 years of work experience”
The intention of this note: To allow you to create a very powerful and meaningful response to the question “How will a particular business school help you in accomplishing your goals?”
Let us help the ROCKSTAR in constructing a thoughtful response for INSEAD Essay.
a) Discuss your short term and long-term goals. (300 words maximum)
b) How will studying at INSEAD help you achieve your vision? (250 words maximum)
What they expect from you (ALL THE SCHOOLS)
Your Present Progression and Accomplishments + Key Unique Points ofINSEAD (Or Any School) That Are Important for Your Development = Your Future Post MBA (Specific Short Term andLong-Term Goals)
Delivered Response by Mediocre Applications
Your Present + How INSEAD (Or Any School) Is A Great School by the way…… = Your Future Will Be Created and It Will Be Great
Now back to the INSEAD Case Study…….
While you are building your applications for INSEAD, think about Why INSEAD is the right place for you? Think about it this way: Most of the factors you mentioned in the essay 5B apply to a lot of business schools and not only INSEAD. So, that personal touch does not exist and INSEAD (and other business schools ) can see through that. You bring up a list of courses that are omnipresent. You bring up the names of the clubs that are there in every business school.
Mentioning the coursework is fine and we suggest it in the “business schools Research framework” but you pick up the courses that all the MBA programs (including the correspondence MBA programs) have in their repository. So, that will not add a lot of value. Why do you have to pay a FORTUNE to a business school?
In order to make the essay personal, start the research with the following:
Does INSEAD’s geographical location add any value to your profile? What are the specific employers in both Singapore and Fontainebleau? What location are you keen on out of these two? (If most of your Target schools are in the US, and INSEAD is an “ALSO” business schools , you are going to have to make some serious effort while researching.)
Does INSEAD value people come from your industry/functional background?
How many incoming students were from your SPECIES?
How is the curriculum of INSEAD meant for consulting/banking/General Management?
One way is to just look for the basic courses and mention those …but the other way is to look for really thought-provoking answers for “How DOES INSEAD make amazing consultants or investment bankers?” There are some business schools that are narrow in terms of what they teach in academia and how they generate the consultants. How the entire coursework is designed to help the students in their transition to consulting firms?
What does INSEAD’s tagline “BUSINESS SCHOOL FOR THE WORLD?” mean to you?
Does the Global Brand resonate with your future aspirations? They have a building in Europe and Singapore but is the geographical mobility is not restricted to only these two locations. And the global brand is demonstrated by the business schools ’ incoming diverse class, the proportion of international faculty, the international case studies that are integrated with the curriculum, and the ability of the business schools to give you that geographic mobility. How important is that for you?
The long list of Alumni.
Every applicant will have this as a part of this essay. However, a good essay will bring in the key points that are unique to the program. You need to highlight how business schools have affected the experience of the existed students. And for that, you need to start your conversations ahead of time with that business schools . You might just even come back to India in the long run and INSEAD has a great presence here too etc. (Google some accomplished alumni of INSEAD in India and start reaching out to them ahead of time. Reach out to the admission committee members to find out more about the India presence, and build relationships). Include the key points in those essays.
All in all, they want to see an essay that has an amazing personal Touch. You should not generate an essay that will be merely lost in transition. They will not be able to differentiate you from anyone else unless you tell them why they are important for you. Write a great story and make them feel that you are taking INSEAD very seriously.
Also listen to what Virginie Fougea, Director of MBA Recruitment and Admissions INSEAD, has to say about the application and selection process at the school.