The best essays are based on your highest ideals

The best application essays are based on introspection, soul-searching, and self-awareness. One great piece of advice I found that helped me with my essays is to use the ‘Wizard of Oz formula’. That is, to highlight brains, heart and courage.


The essay is supposed to give a glimpse into your character, what has shaped you, and what makes you tick. It’s also an opportunity to think about  who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to do with your life.

In general, you’ll want to think about addressing these questions in your essay:

  • Why this qualification now?
  • Why in this classroom in particular?
  • What can I contribute to the class?
  • How can this help me get from where I am to where I want to be?

The way you go about addressing these questions however, can show some depth. While the nuts and bolts of your career strategy and plans are likely to change, there is space in the essay to think about the parts of your character that define you.

Here are some prompts that can help you think about what to write:

What is your motto in life?

What do you believe to be true?

What do you believe that is different to the beliefs of other people?

What motivates you?

What are people surprised to learn about you?

Describe at least one “defining moment” in your life.

Describe one fear you faced head on.

Can you give examples of times you have been influenced by, or influenced someone else?

What does leadership mean to you?

What does courage mean to you?

How do you see the world differently?

What are your 3 greatest strengths and weaknesses?

What was the biggest accomplishment of your career?

What was the most painful failure of your career?

What is the hardest thing you have ever done?

What is the most important lesson you’ve ever learned?

How were you raised and how does that affect you?

Even though your goals may change over the years, clarifying who you want to be can help you stay true to yourself as you choose among the various paths and opportunities business school can open up for you.