MBA admissions essays are hard, but starting them is always the hardest part! So we pooled the knowledge of the whole Career Protocol team for their best tips on how to start those business school essays.
There was no conferring or scripting before we got on camera! If we say similar things, it’s probably because it works.
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Good luck to everyone knuckling down for round 1!
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
1. The Action-Oriented
Make it your goal to make that first sentence fewer than ten words. Just get right to the point. Just get right into the middle of the story. Put the reader right there. Get it going.
Ignore the fact that you need to start an essay. So to me, the first line is always the hardest. Thinking of the perfect way, the first hook, if you think of it that way, which you don't have to, but how does the essay start? I feel like can be crippling. What is the first perfect sentence? So dive right in. If you need to, start in the middle of it, do more of a brain dump first and then come back and clean it up.
– Sarah Mason
Pick a defining moment, pick a vivid moment and get in there with the description, up to as if you were in the present moment and start there. It may not be the way that the essay ultimately begins. I think sometimes we have difficulty with generalities and vague, big, abstract ideas, a sense of the sweeping nature of where these essays are going to go. A lot of times just to get started, just start with one vivid moment and describe it and then let the writing proceed from there.
– Brian Birdwell
Don't paint a vivid picture. Don't make an elaborate scene. Don't have a pre-amble telling us what the essay is going to be all about, just get right to it. Be brief, to the point, and move fast into the story.
– Angela Guido
That way, you don't sit there and stare at the blinking of the cursor on Microsoft Word and not know how to start it. You can get chugging and then come back. It may get cut later, but it's a great way to get started.
2. The Action Extremist
The biggest tip I have for starting your essays is to first get a vomit draft out. A vomit draft is just writing stream of consciousness. Everything that you want to say in a draft and then putting it away for a little while and then coming back to it and then seeing what story goals come out of that vomit draft and then shaping it into an outline and then starting your real first draft from there.
– Louise Loeb
One thing I learned getting my PhD was often that you find your way to what you're really trying to say. So I can't tell you how many times I would take the last sentence and make it my first because that's when I finally got to where what I was really trying to say and then leading with it.
– Sarah Mason
3. The Right Intention
This is such a really great question. So one of the things that you can do before you even start an essay? Start with intention. What do you really want to convey to people about yourself? What is your message? What is it that you really want to achieve with this and then telling your story and sharing more of yourself. So start first with your intention in telling the story.
– Charli Taylor
It's not an essay. It's your life story. I mean, it's not what the adcomm wants to hear from youm it's what do you want to hear from yourself? That's how I would start an essay. What do you want to would you tell yourself if you are telling, narrating your life story to yourself? Go back to your values, your passion, and bring them together. That's my biggest tip.
– Vijay Raghunathon
Least favorite word, I think it's probably going to be something like “great” or “super” because I want to pepper them in all the time and they're not creative. But also things like “moist”, which I think many people have an aversion to that word…
– Sarah Mason
Let’s have a conversation!
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