Georgetown MBA Essays: Tips for McDonough 2023-2024

At Menlo Coaching, we noticed that most MBA essays will fall into one of a number of categories: personal essays, career goals essays, behavioral essays, etc.. Read ahead for our expert guide on approaching these essays for the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.

Personal (Video) Essay

  • Building a cohort of diverse and unique individuals is important to the admissions team. We want you to bring your whole self to Georgetown McDonough. Throughout the application, we’ve learned about what you would add as a professional and leader. Just as important is learning about your interests outside of work. In one minute, please describe a hobby, passion, or what you do for fun in your free time – and why.
    • You may use your phone, computer, or other means to record the video, but please ensure all audio and visual components are clear. We recommend a well-lit room and minimal noise distraction. 
    • The admissions committee would like for you to appear in person during part of your video.
    • We recommend unscripted, conversational videos – help us get to know the real you!
    • Upload your video to an accessible website (such as YouTube, Vimeo, Youku, or Tudou), and submit the direct video URL into your online application. 
    • Please note that all videos must remain active and accessible to the admissions committee online for a minimum of five years for record retention purposes.
    • For your privacy: Do not include your name in the title of your video. You may submit “unlisted” videos via YouTube or password protected videos through Vimeo. If using a password, please include immediately after your link in the text box below. [Ex: www.youtube.com/123, password: Hoyas]  

Behavioral Essay

  • Choose one of the following essays:
    • Principled Leadership: Georgetown McDonough places a strong emphasis on principled leadership, providing both curricular and co-curricular opportunities to strengthen your leadership skills. Describe a time when you have led a team in a professional environment to implement a new idea or process. What leadership characteristics did you utilize? What could you have done to be more effective? And most importantly, what skills will you be able to bring to the teams you lead at McDonough?
    • Hoyas for the Common Good: Georgetown McDonough embodies the ethos that people and organizations can and should contribute to the greater good. The admissions committee would like to better understand how you have demonstrated these values during uniquely challenging times. Describe a time where you have put the needs of others ahead of your own or ahead of the bottom line. We look forward to learning more about the challenge you faced, what unique characteristics you brought to that scenario, and what you learned from it.
    • Contribute to Georgetown Community: Georgetown McDonough is a diverse, global community. We look to understand the contribution that your personal background would make to our community. As appropriate, you may wish to address any obstacles or challenges you have overcome; any educational, familial, cultural, economic, and social experiences that have helped to shape your educational and professional goals; or how your background (e.g. first-generation student, resident outside the U.S.) or activities (e.g. community service and leadership) will contribute to our community.

Career Goals

  • What is your short-term goal following graduation from the Georgetown McDonough School of Business? (text box, 1-2 sentences max)
  • What is your long-term goal following graduation from the Georgetown McDonough School of Business? (text box, 1-2 sentences max)


Optional Essay

  • You may use this essay to provide any additional information that you have not otherwise included in your application. You may address anything in your academic or professional background or anything you feel the admissions committee may need to know regarding your application. (300-350 words—approximately 1 page, double spaced, or less.)

Reapplicant Essay

  • How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application and why do you feel that you are better-positioned this year to begin the MBA Program? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. (300-350 words—approximately 1 page, double spaced, or less.)

Applying to Georgetown University McDonough School of Business

The golden opportunity of this school is its location in Washington D.C., the pinnacle of access to the government and policy making. Opportunities here include trips to off-campus sites along industry lines and policy briefings hosted by research centers on Capitol Hill. Through the story you relate in your essay, the admissions council is looking to see if you reflect the same values that the school does. MSB is looking for students who are global, innovative, and committed to learning. The best way to represent that you possess those qualities is through the type of essay you choose to write. 

The Personal Statement Essay

Like we touched on earlier, schools are looking for the right fit for their campus community, just as you are searching for the school that aligns best with your goals. In the personal essay, this is your chance to show MSB the values that drive you both as a person and as a student. These values tell the admissions council what you prioritize, the moral code you live by, and, most importantly, who you are as a person. 

In these essays, you can talk about almost anything; typically, applicants will write about relationships in their lives, or times when there was a hardship they had to overcome. Be warned, though: there are some topics to avoid, and we have outlined a few things to watch out for in this article

When it comes to video essays specifically, we have some advice:

  1. Practice—but don’t memorize: it’s always clear if someone has memorized what they intend to say in a video essay verbatim, and this can make your content seem staged and inauthentic. If you find that you’re repeating the same speech over and over again, change the first sentence. You’ll be surprised at how this will throw you off!
  2. Make sure that your setting is appropriate: you want to make sure that your lighting is good and that there are no empty tequila bottles in the background.
  3. Speak slowly and clearly: clear diction can make a big difference when it comes to reviewing your video essay.

The Behavioral Essay

To make it simple: the behavioral essay is meant to show MSB that you have developed some sort of leadership skills, what your values are as a leader, and how you are going to most benefit from their development programs. They want students who strive to be leaders. With the school’s convenient location in D.C., there are endless opportunities to either join or create a space in which you can lead. Bonus points if this leadership continues after graduation! 

Before we get there, though, the admissions committee is looking for applicants that are self-reflective. Whether it’s through a setback you’ve experienced, or how you dealt with situations that have gone awry, the school is looking for students who are resilient and able to learn from their mistakes.

Do not overexaggerate (or underexaggerate!) the situations you decide to write about. Be honest about what happened; McDonough is looking for genuine people to join their campus community, and they are less likely to admit an applicant who has overinflated their prior experiences.

Last but not least, make sure to describe what you learned and how you implemented this in a subsequent situation. This is an expected element of the behavioral essay, even if it’s not directly written in the prompt. Prompts that deal with these topics can be daunting, especially when they require you to write about a weakness you have or a failure you’ve experienced. 

Career Goals

The Career Goals Essay

The career goals essay is the space to emphasize your post-MBA plans. MBA programs want to accept students who have concrete, achievable career plans and a roadmap to success. MBA programs want a glowing post-grad report that proves they produce successful graduates with many job prospects (and who will donate money in the future)! Stern also wants students to promote their program to friends, co-workers, and prospective applicants. The career goals essay combines your hard statistics (ex: GMAT score) with your interpersonal skills (ex: recommendations) to formulate the case for getting an MBA. 

Make sure to state your achievable short-term and long-term goals explicitly. Explain why an MBA would help you achieve these goals and how Stern is essential to your plan. Connecting the positive attributes from your personal essay to your career goals essay is critical to forming a well-rounded application.

Optional Essay

Once you’ve completed your application, the optional Georgetown McDonough essay gives you an additional opportunity to provide the AdCom with any additional information or clarity that you feel would enhance your application.

One trap that MBA applicants fall into is using the additional space provided by this essay to write on a whole new topic. However, this is not always the best idea.

You should only make use of this essay if you what you write will provide context to an element of your application to improve your candidacy—you don’t want to jeopardize your chances by adding unnecessary noise to your application.

Reapplicant Essay

For reapplicants, Cornell Johnson requires a specific essay in which you can address how your application has improved since your last application.

In this essay, you can address any improvements to your test scores, promotions at work, additional volunteer or community work, or any significant professional development that you have undertaken since you last applied to the program.

Timing is key for reapplicants, and when you’re applying for an MBA program a second time around, you want to be sure that you are a more qualified and desirable client than you were a year ago—even if your application was stellar the first time.

Conclusion

Writing strong, coherent, genuine stories is an essential part of your MBA application. These essays are meant to help you stand out among many other applicants, so it is worth your time to do the work and write about situations unique to your life and that you truly learned from.

Our McDonough MBA essay advice and MBA application consultants will empower you to present your best self to admissions committees.

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