INSEAD Essay Topic Analysis 2010-2011

13已有 2176 次阅读  2010-08-30 13:41   标签Analysis  Topic  Essay  INSEAD 

Unchanged over the past several years, INSEAD’s essay questions cover a good deal of ground, giving candidates ample opportunity to discuss a range of topics related to their candidacies and highlight various elements of their interests and experiences. The first two “job essays” ask for a factual account of one’s current position and overall professional progression, while the rest of the set invite short reflections and exposition of the type MBA applicants are accustomed.

INSEAD’s total of seven essays puts the school at the high end of the MBA application spectrum in terms of questions posed. As always, careful forethought and planning before beginning to write will be important in ensuring that one is using each essay to one’s best advantage and presenting a balanced picture of a well-rounded individual.

Job Essays
1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)
While the essays for most programs begin by addressing the overall progression of the applicant’s career up to this point, INSEAD’s first question requests a snapshot of the applicant’s career at this moment. Even if you have held a number of positions within the same organization, it’s best to maintain focus on your current position and responsibilities. Keeping in mind that this will be the adcom’s introduction to your materials, you might also provide the context necessary for the reader to understand your place within the organizational structure and the work that occupies your days. While there is some room to talk about “results achieved,” there’s no need to get bogged down in the specifics of certain projects or engagements – a good essay will be composed of fairly general comments that are focused on the present. It is fine to incorporate some more specific information about your career’s “greatest hits” later in response to other questions.

2. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)
This is a tall order for a 250 word essay, so brevity and efficient use of language will be key here. The adcom is looking for an applicant who can present her career as a coherent whole, and demonstrate that she has been on an upward trajectory since the outset. While it would be ideal for you to include some comments on lessons learned and skills gained over the course of your career, the primary focus should be touching upon each full-time post you’ve held, explaining the reasons behind each move you’ve made and commenting on increases and changes in responsibility.

Personal Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

It’s important to address the question in full when responding to this sort of essay, but it’s also in one’s best interest to focus as much as possible on the positive. With this in mind, you might lead off with two or three positive qualities and then comment on one or two weaknesses – ideally ones that you’ve already taken steps to address. Whether discussing a strength or a weakness, though, it’s ideal to back up every statement about your character with a brief example as “proof” of the statement. INSEAD’s framework gives applicants free reign to select personal, professional or extracurricular subjects, so try to select your examples with an eye to presenting a balanced picture of your interests and experiences.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)
This is another fairly straightforward question. Though it’s important to reflect and respond candidly with those achievements that have truly been the most meaningful to you, keep in mind that, given the interests and priorities of the adcom in evaluating one’s business school candidacy, it would be beneficial to feature at least one accomplishment from the professional realm. As always, it will be important to ground your comments in specific details and fully explain why these achievements were significant, both in terms of the results you produced and the lessons you learned.

3. Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)
To fully address this question, you’ll need to describe the situation and detail, in very concrete terms, what went wrong and why. This essay has a particularly restrictive word limit, making it all the more important for applicants to summarize and explain the failure as concisely as possible. Keep in mind that the reason a school asks this question is to discern whether a student is able to learn from experience and avoid repeating past mistakes. Toward that end, it would be wise to interpret INSEAD’s request for a discussion of the “effect” of the mistake as a chance to talk about personal growth (as discussing the negative consequences of one’s actions would be a less flattering approach). Ending the essay on a more positive note is always a good idea, especially for those who can point to subsequent successes in the same realm.

4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)
This is the standard career goals essay, with an interesting focus on skills as they relate to INSEAD classes and future goals. The phrasing of this question might indicate that the school is looking for applicants who have really thought through the limitations they face given their current skill sets, and have a clear sense of what they need to learn (and how they will do so through an MBA) in order to be successful in a very specific career path. This underscores the fact that well-defined goals and school-specific detail are essential to a successful application.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.)
b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

This sort of question is designed to gauge an applicant’s cultural sensitivity and ability to conduct business in an international setting, and it probably comes as no surprise to applicants who are familiar with INSEAD’s reputation as a highly international program. The first option asks applicants to recount a trying experience in another country or environment, and to explain the resulting personal growth and process of adjustment. Meanwhile, the second asks candidates to reflect on the unique characteristics of his or her own culture and anticipate the issues that a visitor might encounter. In both responses, one has an opportunity to demonstrate cultural flexibility, offering evidence for his or her ability to operate as a global citizen and work in diverse teams. Of course, many of the best essays will manage to incorporate a healthy dose of lessons learned, indicating that cultural adjustment can be fraught with trial and error rather than sugar-coating a response and failing to outline the struggles or periods of adjustment.

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