Business School Essays: Very Personal Questions

List of questions


If we had met you five years ago and then met you again today, how would we say that you have changed? Include specific examples that characterize your development. (Sloan)


In thirty to forty years, when you reflect back on your life, what criteria will you use when judging if you have been successful? What are the main achievements/events that you hope will have taken place? (Anderson)


Please provide us with a summary of your personal and family background. Include information about where you grew up, your parents’ occupations, your siblings, and perhaps a highlight or special memory from your youth. (Anderson)


Each of us has been influenced by the people, events, and situations occurring in our lives. How have these influences shaped who you are today? (Stanford)


What seminal influences or experiences, broadly defined (a book, teacher, friend, relative, sojourn, hobby, and so forth), have especially contributed to your personal development? What correlation, if any, does your personal development have to your professional goals? (Berkeley)


Describe yourself and the significant events that have shaped you. (Michigan)



All essay questions, as we have already mentioned, are a way for the admissions committee to learn more about you personally. The getting personal questions just ask more directly than others. They give you a direct opportunity to speak for yourself. They can be tricky, though, because they are often extremely open-ended.


Be selective. You cannot include every detail about yourself, so you have to pick wisely. Some applicants want to tell everything, fearful that they will leave out a crucial detail on which their acceptance, and future, could hinge. Do not give in to this temptation. Instead, focus on one or two significant qualities or characteristics that give the admissions committee genuine insight into you.


Many of the questions in this category are worded creatively or ask you to use your imagination. This intended to get you to loosen up and be yourself. If the question takes you off guard, let it-it means the committee is looking for an unguarded answer. This makes many applicants uncomfortable. They try to present themselves objectively but end up distancing themselves from the subject matter with overly long words and a dry, academic tone. This a grave mistake since the whole point of this essay is to reveal something about yourself. Therefore, put your heart into this essay.


This category does not have one standard question-every school asks it in a different way. Although each school’s question will differ from the next, most of the personal questions still fit into one of three categories: personal development, personal goals, or personal background and influence.


  1. Why Do You Want an MBA Questions 
  2. Contribution and Diversity Questions 
  3. Accomplishment Questions 
  4. Leadership Ability Questions 
  5. Hobby and Extracurricular Questions 
  6. Role Model Questions 
  7. Failure Questions 
  8. Very Personal Questions

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