A failure story is not necessarily a sad one! Watch this video carefully to understand a positive approach for writing a meaningful failure essay for the purpose of MBA Applications and avoiding the most common mistakes made by students in writing this essay.
How to Write the Failure Essay in MBA Applications
How we deal with our failures defines us as much as how we accomplish our successes. The admissions
committee understands this very well; this is why you will, in all likelihood, be asked to write an essay describing an instance of failure in your life. This can be a tricky essay to write as most people are not naturally inclined to discuss their shortcomings; in general, candidates are advised to avoid mentioning their shortcomings throughout the application process so being told to write an entire essay describing a failure can throw them for a loop. However, if properly done, this essay need not be a negative one and can instead be a positive story about personal growth.
Typically, the question will ask you to describe any instance in either your professional or personal life where you experienced a significant failure. This may seem like a question designed to gauge your limitations and to a degree, it may be so, but it can also be used to highlight several desirable virtues such as adaptability, people management, academic bent etc.
As you write the essay there are some vital points to bear in mind. The story you tell of failure will be seen as a reflection of the challenges you have faced in your professional career, and thus your professional maturity. So, while it may seem tempting, do not write about something frivolous you may have failed at. As mentioned earlier, a story about failure does not necessarily have to be an unpleasant one. Instead, it can be framed as an inspirational story focusing on how you have grown as a person. Hence, do not focus on how you fell off the horse; instead, focus on how you got back on, as it was. You must use this essay to convey something about yourself, a takeaway. Remember, this is not the story of what happened but it is about you and how you dealt with it. Further, even though this is an essay about failure, try to avoid any negative takeaways.
Now that we have taken a look at the type of content expected in this essay let us examine what type of structure should be employed while writing it.
The essay can begin with a strong opening expressing what exactly failure means to you, though this is optional. After the opening, you should start by giving a clear background to the entire situation. Once you have made the background details clear, explain how exactly you came to be or were involved in the situation. Here, you can display values like initiative and risk-taking. Now, you have to explain what you did and what caused you to fail. Also, explain the negative outcomes of the failure. Make sure that the reader fully understands what led you to make the choice that you did. Finally, for the ending, explain what it was that you learnt from this experience. You can end the essay here, or if you wish you can explain what you did the next time a similar situation presented itself and what its outcome was.
Now, let us recapitulate this structure and take a look at just how much attention should be paid to each segment.
- Opening on the meaning of failure (optional) - 15%
- A clear background of the situation - 15%
- Explain how you got/were involved - 25%
- Explain what you did; mention the outcome - 25%
- Explain what you learnt - 15%
- Explain what you did next and the outcome - 20%
Aside from the important points mentioned above, there are some broad tips that would be good to keep in mind while you are writing the essay. First of all, do not use essay templates, old essays or any other plagiarized
material. This method is inefficient and of course highly unethical.
There is no singular “right” way to write an essay. Naivety present in your original style will only help your essay stand out. It is okay to take a second opinion on your work but do not get too bogged down by the opinions of others. Throughout the essay, make sure to maintain a positive and inspired tone and above all focus on delivering the proper takeaways.