One of the best ways to get excited about writing is to choose a subject that inspires you. When you write about something that you are passionate about, the words will flow more fluidly and contain energy that the reader can actually feel jumping off the page. The passion test is especially useful when you face the common dilemma of choosing between a topic that you think the business schools will be impressed by and a topic that you are truly passionate about. For example, on a question about what you do in your spare time, you might be tempted to write about how you play the stock market instead of your true love of macramé. You might think that stocks and bonds will be more impressive to a business school admissions officer than weaving cords and beads into plant hangers. But if you're passionate about macramé and don't take any pleasure in investing, your essay about investing is likely to appear uninspired and generic. But your essay on the delight you get from matching the right macramé fibers and beads to create the perfect plant hanger would be filled with passion and would be much more interesting and memorable.
Being strategic is good. But you don't want the essay to be too planned—especially if it is at the expense of being honest. Admission officers have a sixth sense for detecting when you are catering to what you think you should write rather than being true to yourself. So if you have topics on your list that don't reflect who you are and what you believe, put a big "X" next to them. Focus on those ideas that excite you and that truly represent who you are. These will become the best essays because they come from the heart.
Think you have a winning topic? Now the only thing left to do is write. So pull out that notebook or fire up the laptop and start putting words to the page. The ultimate test of whether or not your topic is a good one is to actually turn it into an essay.
Ultimately, you want your essays to be unique, original and full of passion. Not a simple task! But the good news is that if you analyze your topic deeply enough and you are genuine in your answers, you can pen a powerful essay. It's when you don't push yourself far enough in your analysis or when you try to second-guess what the admissions officers want to hear that you get into trouble and can end up writing a mediocre essay. Everyone has a snowflake-like essay inside of them. You just need to discover yours.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
With fierce competition to get into business school, your admission essays are one of the most important factors in whether or not you are accepted. This book helps you craft essays that market your strengths to b-schools while avoiding the most common mistakes.