Demonstrating Community Contribution in Your MBA Application Essay

“What will you contribute to our business school’s MBA community?”

If you are applying to the Henley Business School or any of several other MBA programs, you are very likely to find a variation of this question as part of your application. So what’s the best way to tackle it? Ensuring your specific examples fit in with your choice school’s profile can be a challenging task, and knowing what activities, skills and experiences to highlight—as well as which to leave out—can complicate the application process. To learn more, we spoke with business school admissions consultants Alex Brown and Eliot Ingram.

Brainstorm Your Background

Ingram advises candidates to take the time to outline their many potential areas of community contribution. For instance, were you a leader in undergraduate clubs, volunteer organizations, sports or social groups? If, for instance, you served as a leader for your undergraduate university’s marketing club, this would be a great way to indicate your dedication to community involvement, as well as your interest in a key topic for MBA courses.

“This signals to the school that your outside interests will work with the campus community,” Ingram says.

Research the School’s Program
Before answering this question, candidates would do well to first research their school of choice. This helps you know how to align your interests and experiences with opportunities at the school while also demonstrating to the admissions committee that you have done your homework.

Does the business school that you are applying to emphasize volunteerism, entrepreneurship or international business, for instance? Knowing the types of activities that are most likely to resonate with your target school’s admissions committee will help you decide which aspects of your own background to highlight in the essay.

Highlight Skills that Match the School
“In terms of contributing to the community, oftentimes learning about a candidate’s interests outside of work, what they are passionate about and how that will manifest at the school will be quite illustrative of their potential activities during the MBA,” Brown says. Professional organizations are an obvious starting point, but participation in undergraduate clubs can also help show your likely engagement in the MBA program’s community.

Brown also notes that students learn from one another’s backgrounds. Therefore, admissions committees seek to bring in candidates who have experiences that will enhance the classroom learning experience overall. Candidates who are actively involved in the campus community will likely have a richer overall experience than those who are not as involved.

About the Author

Lindsay Mack

Staff writer covering feature articles on higher management education issues and the MBA space in particular for MetroMBA.

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