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Creative Essay Questions Help MBA Applicants to Express Themselves

In order to get to know a different side of MBA applicants, many business schools are embracing non-traditional essay questions as part of their MBA admissions applications. Reaching past the expected focus on resume and work experience allows business schools to assess how a potential student may fit in on campus, and encourages more creative thinking and personal responses from MBA candidates, according to a Feb. 6, 2012 article in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Knowing unique elements of a candidate's personality or background can help b-schools determine what kind of contribution that person might make in the classroom and on campus, says the article. As an added bonus, this type of creative essay question is more likely to capture the interest of admissions committee members.

Each business school has a different personal essay question for its applicants, designed to bring out some unique aspect of the applicant's character. Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business asks its MBA candidates to share something surprising about themselves or their proudest moment. At the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, applicants are asked to describe themselves to future classmates in 100 words or less.

Applicants at the UC Berkely Haas School of Business are asked to describe something that brings them great joy. Stephanie Fujii, the director of admissions at the school, says in the article that the best responses come from applicants who use the opportunity to share their true selves. Isser Gallogly, assistant dean of MBA admissions at NYU's Stern School of Business, encourages MBA applicants to embrace this type of essay question.

"Applicants often feel as though their profile is typical," Gallogly says in the article. "They worry how they're going to stand out, and questions like this help them set themselves apart."