Recently, a student sent us an admissions essay for the Ross School of Business undergraduate program at the University of Michigan. He talked about the building, and said he got this feeling that he just belonged there.
We asked him why he thought he belonged there, and we kept peppering him with questions until something specific came up in the conversation. He couldn’t recall a single business idea he had as a child, and he wasn’t sure what type of business he dreamed of running. But he was sure he had the smarts and the know-how to learn – plus he was already doing the job of CFO for his youth group.
Aha. That was his story. He first realized he had skills and interests that would serve him well in the business world while overseeing the finances of this organization. He helped build up the group’s savings account, managed the checkbook, tracked expenses and assets, made sure every cent was accounted for.
Turns out, he did have a story to tell, and it was specific. There is no magic window to peer through and get inside the admissions officer’s head to find the perfect essay topic. There is no perfect story to tell. But you do need to tell a story about you, and it has to be in your voice.
We don’t have any secret access either; no one does. But we listen to what admissions officers say, and we talk to them. They want stories. They want to know who you are. They want you to show them who you are with compelling stories written in your own words, in your own voice. You don’t have to survive cancer or climb a mountain to have something real to share.
At Wow, we help our students focus on meaningful moments that illustrate what they want readers to know about them. Our business school prospect wanted to show he was smart and ready to succeed in business school. He told the story of doing a finance job to illustrate his point. It was focused and poignant – far better than the story about the building and feeling like he belonged there. The specific story caught our eye.
So remember: People love to hear stories, real stories – not generic statements. Tell us about YOU. Admissions teams want to know you too.