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Personal MBA Coach’s Tips For Tackling Top MBA Essays



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While there are a growing number of top MBA programs worldwide, with strong rankings and powerful alumni networks, the M7 business schools continue to be desirable for high-achieving professionals. 

If you have decided to apply to one or more of the M7 schools, Personal MBA Coach would like to guide you through the essay-writing process. 

Available to all Personal MBA Coach clients and newsletter subscribers, our free M7 Essay Analysis e-book features our proprietary guidance on how to tackle the 2021-2022 application essays for all the M7 schools. 

Below, get a glimpse into the required essay questions for the M7 programs and Personal MBA Coach’s tips for how to tackle these essays!

Harvard Business School

Number of Required Essays: 1

Essay: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program? (No word minimum or maximum)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: This essay question is an open invitation to show what is truly interesting about your profile. Think about the HBS essay as your chance to let the admissions committee “meet” the real you behind your resume and the rest of your application.

Responses here will be incredibly different for everyone. Do not make the mistake of trying to write what you think the school wants to hear. Instead, be ready to show how you will add unique value on campus. 

Successful essays have included some sort of personal anecdote and often a much more detailed personal story, which is often tied to a recurring theme throughout your essay.



Number of Required Essays: 2

Personal MBA Coach advises candidates to think about each question individually but to make sure the two essays complement one another:

Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short- and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: This first essay allows applicants to reflect on their aspirations on a higher level. As you think about your future, consider your skill gaps and how a Wharton MBA will specifically help you to close these gaps. Detail the opportunities you plan to take advantage of on-campus, being sure to show an understanding of Wharton’s culture.

Essay 2: Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: The second Wharton essay gives applicants the chance to highlight past accomplishments and share potential contributions to the Wharton community. Candidates have the freedom to choose from specific talents, impressive extracurricular accomplishments and/or unique professional skills. A strong essay will detail multiple contributions that connect clearly to your personal story, passions, and career goals!


Columbia Business School

Number of Required Essays: 3

Essay # 1 is required while candidates have a choice for essays 2 and 3:

Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3 – 5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: This question provides the opportunity to show how you envision your career unfolding. Columbia Business School specifically asks for both a short-term goal and a long-term dream job so be sure to include both. While it is important that candidates have lofty goals here, they should also make sense and fit with their short-term goals and overall story.

Essay 2 and 3: Please respond to two (2) of the three (3) essay questions listed below: 

The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a new co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on five essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias, Communicating Across Identities, Addressing Systemic Inequality, and Managing Difficult Conversations. Tell us about a time you were challenged around one of these five skills. Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: This first choice directly addresses a topic that is top of mind for nearly all top MBA programs. If you have a strong story to tell, take advantage of this prompt to address it. Conversely, do not force this essay if you do not feel that you have an authentic response to share.

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: This option takes a direct approach to addressing fit. This is your chance to discuss the classes you hope to take, clubs you will join, and additional programs that interest you, like speaker series or immersion seminars. 

Essay Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: Use this essay to tell admissions committee members something unique about your profile. Consider your hobbies, passions, upbringing, or values here. Then select a book, movie, or song with parallels to your own experience(s). As we often say, the what matters much less than the why in this essay. Rather than choosing something you think will impress the reader, pick something that you truly connect with personally.


Chicago Booth

Number of Required Essays: 2

Essay 1: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 words minimum)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: Discuss your specific short-term and long-term goals, allowing the reader to understand how you developed these goals and what are your higher-level aspirations. Think about your skill gaps and how a Booth MBA will help you to close them, considering the classes, programs, or clubs you hope to take advantage of and how they will help you achieve your post-MBA goals.

Essay 2: An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are… (250 words minimum)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: This essay challenges applicants to think about the personal aspects of their profile. This is your opportunity to consider what sets you apart from other candidates. Potential topics to explore here include passions, values, hobbies, and extracurricular activities.



Number of Required Essays: 2

Essay 1: Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: Applicants often share a professional story here, though strong leadership examples in your extracurricular activities could also work well. A strong answer will not only demonstrate leadership experience but also highlight your strengths and specific skillsets.

Essay 2: Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: This second question is a challenging one as it forces you to reflect on what truly drives and motivates you. For each value selected, discuss WHY this value is important to you and show HOW you have integrated this value into your life. 


Stanford GSB

Number of Required Essays: 2

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why? (650 words suggested) 

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: Do some serious soul searching here to determine what you are most passionate about. Ideally, you have acted on this passion, and it extends throughout multiple aspects of your life. Then, think carefully about why this matters to you. Finally, you should include some WHAT here. After all, a passion or cause that you have done nothing with will not be very believable. 

Essay 2: Why Stanford? (400 words suggested)

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: First, you should set up why you want an MBA, detailing your goals and what skills you need to develop to achieve these goals. Then, establish how Stanford will help you to fill these skill gaps, listing classes, clubs, programs, etc. and how they will help. Finally, be sure to articulate what attracts you to Stanford’s culture!


MIT Sloan

MIT Sloan takes quite a different approach from other MBA application essays, instead, asking applicants to submit a cover letter:

Cover Letter: Please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more professional examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to the Admissions Committee (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips: Candidates really need to reflect on their most significant accomplishments here and make it clear what they will bring to the table once they arrive at Sloan. Personal MBA Coach advises applicants to approach this cover letter as they would any professional cover letter. Ask for a place in the MIT Sloan class and tell the reader who you are. 

Download Personal MBA Coach’s M7 Essay Analysis e-book for more details on our school-specific essay writing guidance!


About Personal MBA Coach:

Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2 by leading sources including Poets&Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing, and mock interviews. Our team includes former M7 admissions directors and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last year, our clients earned more than $6.5M in scholarships!

Scott Edinburgh

Scott Edinburgh is a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan BS graduate and founded Personal MBA Coach 13 years ago with the goal of providing customized one-on-one support. Scott also serves on the Board of Directors for AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants and is invited to speak at MBA Admissions events globally. Our clients have been accepted to all top schools globally with a 96% success rate. They received $5.5M in total scholarships last year.

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