Stumped on Essay
July 22, 2008 8:59 AM   Subscribe

What should i write about for an admissions essay?

I am applying to Business school, and one of the essays is "describe your greatest passion."
Should i write about a concrete activity, or is it ok to write a more abstract essay? If i answer the question truthfully, it will be more abstract, kind of tying together all the activities that i am passionate about. But i feel like they want something more concrete. I am just not sure what exactly they are asking. Any advice?

Thank you so much!
posted by tessalations999 to Education (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
You should write about it truthfully, but not simply. How did you come about this? What significance does this passion have in your life? How much time do you spend on it? Why do you do it? Are you any good at it? Does that help or hinder your motivation to engage in it? And most importantly, How is all of this relevant to college life and your decision to apply for Business School?
posted by iamkimiam at 9:19 AM on July 22, 2008


Do they really want to hear about fly tying? Or are they more interested in how this pursuit gives concrete evidence of your ability to spot something of interest, do the research needed to pursue it, acquire the materials through hard work, perseverance and two jobs and then really enjoy and be good at whatever it is you're passionate about? In other words, show how following your passion gives proof of whatever qualities the business school is looking for.

(Having never applied to business school, I do urge you to take this advice with a salt shaker. I do think you should look at this question from the application committee's point of view. They probably don't care what you are excited about, unless it's successfully picking penny stocks right out of the cradle or building a computer empire out of your garage. They are probably very interested in your commitment, work ethic, perseverance and in the energy you display in all of these areas. Good luck!)
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:56 AM on July 22, 2008


I have an MBA, and you can take my advice with a salt shaker too. You don't say what level of grad school this is. If it's Harvard or U Chicago, the subject of the essay probably matters a lot. If it's State U (which is where my MBA is from) they are IMO mostly looking for evidence of the ability to write a coherent essay. Perfect grammar and spelling, logical construction, every paragraph containing sufficient supporting information, interesting writing style, etc are more important than the subject matter itself.
posted by COD at 10:10 AM on July 22, 2008


Write about exactly what it is that makes your passions boil, and in the process seduce the reader into sympathy with your passion. Hell, aim to make any reader want to try what you're doing.

Have lots of people read your essay. Imagine you're writing a "lives" column for the NYT Magazine, not an admission essay.
posted by u2604ab at 10:11 AM on July 22, 2008


more info:
I am applying to columbia business school

Would writing about reading be too "academic" of a passion for business school? I was thinking about writing about my passion for reading philosophy and discovering and deepening new ideas and ways of thinking. But perhaps this is too bookwormish. As some people mentioned above, they want to see leadership, energy...etc. im not sure if reading philosohpy would demonstrate what a business school would be looking for?
posted by tessalations999 at 11:57 AM on July 22, 2008


I'm another non-MBA-person, but I would advise you to write about something very specific and concrete. The people who will read your essay have will have read lots of essays. The more general the topic you write about, the more likely the people who will read your essay will have read about it before. The more concrete your topic, the less likely it will read as generic and trite, as essays prompted by broad things like "describe your greatest passion" can. If your passion is reading philosophy, that works for an essay, but narrow it. Which philosophers? Write about someone in particular, and one work in particular, and about how this interest has manifested itself elsewhere in your life.
posted by millipede at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2008


Definitely write about what you are truly passionate about. The people who read these essays will be able to pick up on any B.S. in a split second. Be honest and your passion will come across. I would worry much less about the subject of your essay than being sure that your passion actually does come through.

I don't think that your essay's "relevance to business school" deserves the sentence in bold above. I think that they wouldn't be asking this question if that's what they really cared about. They want to see passion, and they'll take that and apply it to business. You don't need to prove a passion for business school. You wouldn't be applying if you didn't have an interest. What they want to see is your ability to be passionate about things. The being passionate about business follows - it's their job to help you foster that. Give them the raw tools to work with.
posted by dosterm at 3:02 PM on July 22, 2008


I do have an MBA from a high ranked school and, more relevant to your question, I interview high school students who are applying to alma mater. What I think they would be looking for is
- do you put your passion in practice? If the action is reading, how much have you read, how do you decide what to read? have you gone out of your way in some fashion to pursue this passion?Do you have a favorite school of philosophy? why?
- are you able to think and talk about why you are passionate in a way that demonstrates mature thinking but is also fully understandable to the committee?
- how has it affected you? what have you learned? Here you want to clearly identify things that will transfer into your professional life. Give examples so it is not just hot air. Not, it made me a better thinker but it challenged me to question xyz.
- don't try to tie all your passions together into an over-arching theme - it will be too generic. The details are what make the essay rich

Remember, the goal is not to teach them about philosophy, the goal is to give them a broader picture of who you are as a person. Think about what you want them to learn about you from this essay and then keep that in mind as you write. You don't want them to think you are bookish and academic so think about how the philosophy manifests itself in your real life - examples of how it makes you think or act differently because of an idea that you read.
posted by metahawk at 3:41 PM on July 22, 2008


Write about the volunteer work that you do.
posted by klarck at 9:42 PM on July 22, 2008


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