How to Write The Consortium’s Core Essays
The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management application features three types of essays: two core application essays, one or more member school essays, and the membership essay. This post focuses on the two core essays. (See all of The Consortium essay prompts here.)
Core Essay One
Core Essay One asks applicants to respond to the following prompt: Please describe your short and long term goals post-MBA. How has your professional experience shaped these goals and influenced your decision to pursue an MBA degree? (Two-double spaced pages maximum) Does the above essay prompt look familiar to you? If it does, that is because you may have seen a variation of this prompt on the application websites for some top business schools. Many business schools want to know more about your pre-MBA background and how it fits with your post-MBA goals. Questions about your career background and goals help admissions committees create a diverse incoming class. However, this specific prompt differs in that it does not expect applicants to craft a response in the context of a particular school. Here a few points to keep in mind as you draft your response to this question:
Show Your Career Trajectory
Just as a resume is a reflection of your career direction, this essay should demonstrate how you have reached this point in your career, and what you view for your professional future. You need to tell the story of what inspired you to obtain an MBA, whether it was a specific role, a single event, or an influential person in your life. For most, such a story would best be explained in a chronological manner, but do not confine yourself to that style if it doesn’t fit your career. What is most important is that a reader can logically follow the motives behind your career shifts and decisions.
Be Near-Sighted & Far-Sighted
In terms of time frames, it helps to think of the short term as the 2-3 years post-MBA, and to attach a 5-10 year time horizon to long-term goals. Long-term goals tend to be fluid and abstract, so there is pressure to highlight specific metric targets of success. Therefore, focus on the scope of the impact you want to have in your post-MBA career.
MBA: “My Business Advantage”
Use this acronym to help you target what advantages you will gain by spending two years in an MBA program. What parts of the MBA experience do you most value? Maybe you want to gain soft skills and a qualitative business perspective to supplement a technical background. Perhaps the network of the school through alums, professors, and fellow classmates is a huge plus. Take the time to think of the core elements of the MBA that will maximize your impact in your post-MBA career.
Core Essay Two (Optional – still, respond!)
Core Essay Two is optional and states: Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application? You may also use this essay to provide further explanation of employment gaps, test scores, etc. (Two-double spaced pages maximum) It’s important to note that, here at The Art of Applying, we always recommend that you respond to the Consortium’s optional essay. There are two directions one can take with this essay:
- Shed light on extenuating circumstances surrounding sections of your application that may raise questions by an admissions committee, and
- Take the opportunity to bolster your candidacy by adding an experience you didn’t have the bandwidth to explain in other sections of the application. It’s important to note that the Consortium application welcomes these “bonus stories” but most schools prefer that the optional essay be a succinct explanation of any concerns they may have—no bonus stories allowed.
With respect to addressing extenuating circumstances, you can address circumstances related to the following:
- Employment gaps
- Career Shifts
- Test Scores
- Overall GPA and/or grade inconsistencies across semesters
- Recommender Choices
If you go this route, you want this essay to be concise, straight-forward, and solution-oriented. You want the tone to be explanatory, but not excuse-laden. Focus on how you navigated or bounced back from past challenges, which shows that you can deal with potential liabilities in the context of an MBA program. On the other hand, if you decide on direction #2, make sure that whatever you address is something that could not be covered given the scope of other essay questions or application sections. For instance, this essay could be a chance to describe an unusual experience, special accolade or extracurricular activity that is central to your life and different enough to differentiate you from other candidates. Again, make sure you address the most important aspects rather than trying to cover every possible concern the admissions committee may have about you. When it comes to the Consortium application, we encourage you to add to your candidacy by responding to this prompt. Note that the Consortium titles the prompt “Core Essay Two.” So while the prompt is optional, your response will become a core section of your application. Hence, don’t write this essay on subjects that would be viewed as footnotes rather than as core themes. Good luck on completing your Consortium application!