The labor put into GMAT preparation invariably exhausts students in terms of time and energy, but they must brace themselves up and prepare for the next round. The time of the year for applications is here again, and there is a lot that is new and much that has not changed for ages.
Talking about business schools, some schools feature on the wish list of every MBA aspirant. Irrespective of whether the applicant fits the school or vice versa, there are schools that everyone wants to be at. INSEAD, LBS, Wharton, Harvard, Cornell, and NYU are the most popular!
When applying to INSEAD, the most difficult hurdle is getting the expansive set of essays ready on time. Yes, the GMAT test score apart, the most time-consuming and effort-ridden aspect of the application process is compiling the essays. With two professional essays of 250 words each and 6 (+ 1 optional) personal essays of varying lengths, the INSEAD essay section is, by all standards, the most detailed. Of course, the advantage is that the essays provide applicants with a vast platform to showcase their skills and talk about themselves.
There is a little of everything – two achievements, one failure, career objectives, culture shock (this last one has been on the essay file for years!), and whatnot. So, if a prospective applicant has nailed the GMAT and is ready to start applying to INSEAD, he should brace himself up, smile, take a deep breath, and put pen to paper!!! Enjoy the opportunity.
One word of caution for professional essays is to read the question carefully. The first question wants information about only your most recent job. So do not banter about your achievements in the company in general and about previous posts in the company. Remember, all you have is 250 words. Be to the point and make sure you have adhered to the pointers in the question “the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products, and results achieved.”
For the second question, describe your ‘career’ since graduating. This means a summary of all employment before answering the question about your next position if you continue with your present employer. With a word limit of 250 words, this could be a tricky question for someone with a varied career history but do not get wound up in descriptions. Just sketch the career history moving chronologically from graduation to the present.
The most important thing to observe for the personal questions is the word count while drafting each essay. Surely, you will have time to edit and shorten essays, but once you have allowed your ideas to soar and your words to flow irrepressibly, it won’t be easy to curtail your expression to the stipulated word count and still make the sense you want to make.
So, from the onset, observe the limits. The first essay allows a certain abandon: 600 words to describe yourself. That is fairly generous! Some schools want the same essay in far fewer words. Apart from the word limit of this essay, take care of the content. Most people think of this as an opportunity to brag.
On the contrary, it is an opportunity to describe what you consider your most appreciable qualities (strengths) and what qualities you might want to improve on (weaknesses) and to share with the admission committee the experiences that have shaped who you are. The best way to tackle this essay is to weave your qualities into the stories you tell about yourself and to construct an essay that makes for interesting reading.
Essay 2 is built around specific situations in your life and is anecdotal. So, although a lot happens in our lives, make sure to pick one professional achievement and one personal achievement for a 400-word essay. The limitations in terms of words necessitate emphasis on the situation and some lines on why these two examples are achievements for you. In essay 3, there is more room for detail. We have to describe one instance of failure and have 400 words.
But the real challenge of this question is not the situation – after all, different people have different perspectives of failure- but how the writer can convince the reader why he considers this a failure and what he has learned from it.
Essay 4 is the most dynamic of the personal essays and helps applicants express their understanding of different cultures. But understanding the term’ culture shock’ is the first step to getting this response right. INSEAD has earned an impeccable reputation for internationalism. This essay is the school’s way of discovering each applicant’s experiences with different cultures and his potential to handle more such differences.
In the first version of the essay, the applicant needs to focus on one episode that exposed him to culture shock. In contrast, the second version of the same essay allows the applicant to describe his country’s culture and identify what might ‘shock’ people from other countries. The thing to be avoided here is any.
Essays 5 and 6 of 300 and 250 words can be handled like one long essay. Five asks for a statement of career objectives, both short and long-term, so one needs to make sure to establish a vivid connection between what he has done so far and what he plans to do after the MBA and later.
These points must fit into the points outlined in Essay 6, “Why INSEAD?” INSEAD must be a logical component of your career horizon. So, if you are a professional aspiring to be an entrepreneur in the long run, be sure to identify what there is about the INSEAD platform that will contribute to realizing your goal.
And finally, the Optional Essay. Does one need to write this? Well, yes, if there is something that you are sure lends credence to your candidature, but that has yet to be shared through the essays. This could be a good opportunity to address an interesting aspect of your profile. But DO NOT repeat information shared elsewhere if you want to use this opportunity to contact the admission committee at INSEAD.
At Option Training Institute, we provide the best GMAT preparation classes and frequently organize interactive sessions with graduates from business schools to allow students to develop a broad perspective of the whole purpose of preparing for the test.
The obvious corollary to preparing for the exam is applying to programs. We ensure the preparation phase is holistic and not confined to acquiring test proficiency. We do not work for you but with you and allow our years of experience in the field of education to give the right impetus to your career.