Today’s MBA programs are built around training and developing leaders, not followers. To that end, admissions committees look for applicants who have character and who stand out in the crowd. With admission to top MBA programs so competitive, separating yourself from the rest of the applicant pool is crucial.

The essay portion of the b-school application is the best area to demonstrate your character. The best way to do that is, simply put, to be yourself.

Too many people think they have to sound perfect in their essays. But it just comes across as contrived. They don’t seem real.

One of our biggest pet peeves is reading essays that present clichéd statements in stilted language. These essays not only added nothing to the case for admitting the applicant, but also represent a wasted opportunity. The applicant behind the essay had passed up a chance to impress the admissions committee with who he or she really was.

Honesty is the best policy in deciding what to write about, and how. Let your personality show through in your essays. Show your strengths, but be honest.

Don’t exaggerate your accomplishments or claim to have done things you didn’t really do. There’s a good chance you won’t get away with it anyway. Speaking from our own experiences, admissions committee members can always see through a story that’s put together just to project a certain image.

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