I have not written much about the application process - which is a tough one since it is a process where you must relegate control of your "destiny" to a 3rd party. However, if you take a look at life circumstances, there is only so much you will be able to control, and that's ok.
I have been asked several times about this application process. It may be worth a post.
There are excellent blogs on how to write application essays or prepare yourself for business school. My number one recommendation is to plan ahead and take the time. Talking about oneself is difficult. Talking aobut oneself in a meaningful way requires more introspection, and most of it just comes with time, and maturity of reflection, not necessarily an active effort.
- people who will read your essays may read them at 2am. Make it clear and easy for them to understand. Tell them what you are going to say early, then tell them in more detail, then conclude by reminding them of what you were going to tell them :)
- try to find something "remarkable", including how you present stuff. Originality is likely to be remembered. Doesn't have to be in what you did but in how you present it. More importantly than this, be yourself. It is remarkably easy to spot something that doesn't ring true.
- don't just make statement, prove everything you say. For instance, if you say: "I care about others", show an example of this being true. otherwise, find something else that you will be more representative of who you are, what you care about, care enough to dedicate significant time and resource to it.
- take the time to write your essays, let them mature. Chances are your first draft will be very descriptive, let the story sink in, stop thinking about it consciously, then revisit later
- the challenge in this process is to get to know people with very little. Every detail counts. Make sure every word you add adds something to your story.
- don't try to assume anything else about the other applicants other than the fact that they will be of extremely high quality. you won't know them, so don't position yourself "competitively". Diversity is important in business school. Concentrate on your story, think about what it is you want to convey, make it real and clear.
- don't make suggestive statements such as: it is clear that I am the most qualified candidate because. state facts, talk about state of minds, talk about your path, how you matured, what you learned, how you learned, what you are passionate about. Talk about everything that makes who you are, let them decide.
- always remember the objective of the admission committee: they need to make a decision about you in their program. Write only about what will help them with this decision. What matters? your motivation, your likelihood to accept an offer they may extend (e.g. why their program in particular), your ability to follow the curriculum, your active participation to the program, what will you bring to the school (during your MBA and thereafter) and to your fellow participants, etc...
- It is true that past behavior isn't necessarily a good predictor of future behavior. However, in a lot of cases, that's what you will have at your disposal to help the Admission Committee find out more about you
I will write more if I can think of something else