MBA Admissions Essays - Content provided by EssayEdge's
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What one nonprofessional activity do you find most inspirational
and why? (Wharton)
over two years ago I began tutoring high school students
in several types of mathematics, including preparation for
the S.A.T. Test. While I did this initially to earn money,
I have continued to tutor (often pro bono) because I enjoy
the material and the contact with the students.
always enjoyed math tremendously. I can remember riding
in a car for long distances as a child and continuously
calculating average speeds and percentages of distances
covered as we traveled. In college I took upper division
math classes such as Real Analysis and Game Theory (and
placed near the top of the curve) though they were not required
for my major. All this time spent playing with math has
left me with a deep understanding of the way numbers work
and the many ways in which problems can be solved.
I first began tutoring I was stunned to find that most of
the kids I worked with, although very bright, not only lacked
the ability to solve complex problems, they were very uncomfortable
with some of the basic principles of math. This discomfort
led to fear and avoidance, and the avoidance led to more
discomfort. A vicious cycle began. Instead of seeing math
as a beautiful system in which arithmetic, algebra and geometry
all worked together to allow one to solve problems, they
saw it as a bunch of jumbled rules which made little sense
that they were forced to memorize.
tutor, I found that it was important when starting with
a new student to find out where his/her discomfort with
math began. Often, this meant going back several years in
their education to explain important basic concepts. For
some students, fractions and decimals were the point at
which math stopped making sense. For many others, it was
the introduction of letters to represent numbers in algebra.
Some students found that identifying their weaknesses was
an embarrassing process. I explained to them that it was
not their fault. Everyone comes to understand new concepts
in math in a slightly different way, and the problem was
that no teacher had taken the time to explain their "problem
area" in a way which would make sense to them. Since
math was a system, once they missed out on that one building
block, it was not surprising that the rest of it did not
make sense. Our mission together would be to find the way
in which the system worked for them.
we had identified the initial "problem area, "
I would spend a lot of time getting the student to play
with questions in that area from a lot of different perspectives.
For example, if fractions were the problem, then I would
create games to get the student to think of fractions in
terms of division, ratios, decimals or other equivalent
systems. This would often be a fairly unstructured process,
as I wanted to see how the student's mind worked and keep
them from feeling any anxiety. Usually it did not take long
for the concepts to start becoming clear to the student,
as he/she played with the numbers in the absence of the
pressure of school. My goal was to not just white wash over
a students weaknesses with a few rules which would be quickly
forgotten, but to help them develop an understanding and
an appreciation for the underlying principles.
this process to be very satisfying for both myself and the
young men and women that I taught. It was a wonderful feeling
to have a student laugh out loud with relief as a principle
which had been unclear and causing anxiety for years suddenly
made sense. Once these old "problem areas" were
cleared up it was usually quite simple to make clear the
subjects that they were working on at the time, especially
since I already had an understanding of how they were best
able to understand new concepts. Again, I found it important
to get the student to play with the new material and look
at it in several ways so as to develop a true understanding
of the material.
quite successful as a tutor. One young man increased his
Math S.A.T. by 150 points. Another student improved so dramatically
in geometry, her test scores jumped from about 55 percent
to over 90 percent, that her teacher kept her after class
and asked if she was cheating. Although most of my students
did not improve this dramatically, I walked away from every
lesson that I gave feeling that I had helped someone understand
and enjoy math. I hope to be able to continue teaching,
if only for a few hours a week, for the rest of my life.
COMMITTEE COMMENTS: **
essay shows that this applicant is dedicated not just to
helping people, but to academics, learning, and math. His
tutoring does not make us believe his sincerity; the thoughtfulness
and detail with which he describes it do. He has put obvious
time into developing an effective method of teaching. The
writer shows that he is result-oriented by measuring his
success in terms of real numbers and percentage increases.
Someone who applies such standards of accountability to
his extracurricular life is sure to bring the same standards
to school and business.
Describe the characteristics of an exceptional manager by
examining someone whom you have observed or with whom you
have worked. Illustrate how his or her management style
has influenced you. (Tuck)
consulting, strong analytical skills are valued as much
as, if not more than, effective managerial and leadership
skills. Unfortunately, for some consultants, these characteristics,
at times, are mutually exclusive. I was fortunate, however,
to work with [name] on my first major project at [consulting
firm]. As my projectmanager, he demonstrated a superior
combination of leadership, managerial, and communication
skills. As a result of our interaction, I learned several
important lessons and tools that I used on subsequent projects
to improve my effectiveness as a team leader.
[name] is a true leader who exhibits courage and dedication.
A powerful trait rarely found in the realm of business,
courage is unique in its ability to unify and motivate people.
Moreover, his courage is balanced appropriately with professionalism,
strong values, and humility. He is sensitive to others’
feelings and recognizes that different people require different
types of direction and treatment. Although he often works
with diverse and difficult groups, he always seems able
to reach consensus and create a shared vision and purpose.
Furthermore, he excels at establishing priorities and proactively
effective manager, [name] also is able to translate his
broad direction into discrete, tangible tasks. Since consultants
often use difficult or creative analytical approaches, clearly
articulating tasks and defining outputs is very important.
In addition, he exercises the appropriate level of supervision.
Rather than micro-managing his team members, [name] establishes
clear accountabilities and expectations and pushes work
down to the correct level. As a result, he creates a strong
sense of ownership and leverages the skills of his team
members. Furthermore, he excels at creating a supportive
environment and, when necessary, coaching team members to
help them develop new skills.
[name] is a masterful communicator. He is the only project
manager I have had who gave me consistent and constructive
feedback, importantly, both positive and negative. Such
feedback not only provides clear developmental objectives,
but also signals to others that he values their contributions.
This type of balanced and open communication quickly forms
the foundation of mutual trust and respect. Furthermore,
[name] excels in the art of negotiation and debate. He states
his points with remarkable precision and is expert at remaining
objective and recognizing all sides of an argument. And,
regardless of the volatility of a situation or the strength
of his feelings, he always listens to all positions patiently
and effectively controls his demonstration of emotion, thereby
gaining the respect of others and lending additional credibility
to his positions.
my limited experience managing teams, my exposure to [name]
was central to my early success at [consulting firm]. For
example, although I had considered myself a leader in athletics,
I had not learned to translate those skills into the business
arena. [Name] taught me several effective methods to lead
teams. Admittedly, as a highly motivated young analyst with
very high work standards, I also lacked many of the skills
required for effective team leadership. However, I quickly
learned the importance of flexibility and became more comfortable
providing feedback and directing the work of others. Furthermore,
through his example, [name] taught me the importance of
objectivity and the utility of several effective communication
techniques. For example, I learned to use my sense of humor
as an effective tool to persuade, disarm, or motivate others.
in my career at [consulting firm], I had several rare opportunities
to lead client teams. In part due to the lessons I learned
from [name], these projects were a great success. As a result,
I went on to manage a half dozen diverseand difficult client
teams that ranged in membership. With each project, I further
refined the lessons I learned from [name] and developed
new techniques for leading and managing teams. Due to my
rapid development, I was promoted to [position], a managerial,
post-M.B.A. position at [consulting firm], signifying that
I can progress to the partner level. Although I realize
my tool kit is far from complete, these skills will be invaluable
both in business school and beyond.
COMMITTEE COMMENTS: **
is another essay that stands out because of its solid writing
and superior organization. It starts with a bold assertion
to catch the reader’ s attention and then uses the
assertion to introduce the mentor’ s most outstanding
quality. Each of the next three paragraphs clearly asserts
and describes an additional supporting quality. The essay
concludes with examples of how the mentor’ s influence
has tangibly affected the writer’ s actions and work
performance, resulting in rapid promotion.
Describe the two accomplishments that occurred in the last
five years of which you are most proud. (Columbia)
Advisory for American Savings Bank
1994,my group was engaged by Robert Bass' Keystone Partners
to evaluate their investment in California company, the
culminating point of a five-year banking relationship. Keystone
Partner however, engaged Goldman Sachs as co-advisor, thereby
infuriating the Lehman team. We swore to keep control of
the valuation process by solely handling the modeling work
including complex simulations and projections, which I was
solely responsible for. I quickly drafted a couple of pages
that I distributed to both teams. Overnight, the Goldman
team reproduced them line by line and sent them directly
to the client as their work. It was a great strike against
our team. I decided to design a completely different model,
and to draw upon the information that I could gather from
a long and fruitful client relationship with Lehman Brothers.
I convinced the senior vice president, vice president and
associate who had covered the company for years to pass
on their knowledge, persuaded them to be available for 36
hours straight to answer all my questions, and for four
more hours to be trained by me on the model. I designed
a 23 page model, stuffed with information, that we presented
to the 42 person working team, gathered at our request.
The presentation, led by myself for technical explanations
and the senior vice president for strategic conclusions,
was a great success. The Goldman Senior Partner, recognizing
the "excellency" of our model, proposed that I
remain in charge of "all the number".
this experience because I gained respect from the senior
executives at all three firms. But most of all, although
one of the most junior banker, I was able to inspire a cohesive
spirit to our team in pursuing our goal to produce a high
to Los Angeles in August 1992 represented not only a great
professional challenge-to work with only two senior bankers
and cover all California financial institutions-but also
a personal opportunity, a chance to broaden my horizons.
I grew up in Paris and lived in the capital for 21 years
before moving to New York; I definitely was a city girl!
Los Angeles demanded however that I adapted to a whole different
world, where sport rather than opera rhythms the season.
I knew that my first year in the Los Angeles office would
be extremely busy due to the small size of my group. In
fact I averaged 90 hours of work per week that year. To
keep my sanity and maintain a good spirit, I resolved to
try and learn a sport that had always fascinated me: surfing.
Thus I bought a brand new wetsuit and longboard and started
the experience bright and early on a sunny Saturday afternoon
under the merciless scrutiny of the local surfers, all males,
who did not hide their contempt for my pale skin and weak
arms so typical of investment banking Corporate Analysts.
Surfing seemed at first an impossible mission: my board
always mysteriously rebounded on my head, while the waves
would break exactly where I was paddling. At work, there
was an explosion of laughter when I proudly exposed my (only)
personal project: why, a twenty-six year old Parisian, surfing?
This had to be French humor! I resolved however to practice
every week-end before coming into the office. Last summer,
I finally stood up on my board and rode the wave to the
beach. It was one of the most exhilarating moments of my
life and although I still surf regularly, nothing matches
my first wave nor the pride that I felt. Because I received
little help and encouragement but prevailed, I cherish this
experience which was actually a tremendous confidence builder.
COMMITTEE COMMENTS: **
writer demonstrates a nice balance between her professional
and her personal achievements. Her first accomplishment
shows the essayist to be a savvy business professional and
highlights her good political sense, dedication, and technical
skill. The second accomplishment rounds out the image by
painting a picture of a young, healthy, active woman willing
to take risks and learn new skills at the expense of laughter
and embarrassment. The latter may have been a personal achievement,
but these translate into very lucrative professional skills
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