Georgetown McDonough Application Essay Tips, 2022-2023
The 2022–2023 application for Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is one of the most flexible. With three topic options for your main essay, which one should you choose? The answer will be different for everyone, so focus on the question that you can most passionately respond to while providing insight into material you have not yet shared in the rest of your application. Use the opportunity to share a rich and engaging, specific story that you can provide sufficient analysis on. The admissions committee should walk away from your application feeling confident that you are an essential ingredient to their next class and precisely the type of leader they want representing Georgetown upon graduation. To that end, ensure that your example exemplifies tenets of McDonough’s Jesuit mission. The school’s one-minute video component will then allow you to give the admissions committee a glimpse into your personality and non-work life to round out your profile.
Please select one of the following three essays to complete in 300-350 words (approximately one page, double spaced):
Essay Option One – 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?
With this essay question, McDonough wants to hear about the standout leadership skills you will contribute to your class. Take care to follow the prompt’s demands by sticking to an example from a professional environment and ensuring that the impact you had was related to a new idea or process.
Use your words intentionally and paint the picture of how you guided your team, including offering details about your thought process. This will give the admissions committee insight into not only what you did but also how and why you did it. As a result, they’ll be better able to envision the broad application of your skills to your MBA class.
Don’t shy away from sharing how you could have been more effective—the fact that you can identify ways to take the idea to the next level, even in retrospect, is a powerful indicator of the rigorous analysis you’re willing and able to apply. You could also use this opportunity to highlight how a McDonough MBA would help you offer an even better solution to a similar problem you encounter in the future. Just be certain that you are sharing an example that ends positively, to earn the school’s trust in your ability to accomplish the mission.
You might also wish to share examples of specific teams you plan to lead while at McDonough, whether they are academic or club related. Use this space to connect the dots for the admissions committee so they can easily visualize you as an integral, exceptional, contributing member of the next incoming class. These examples can and should extend beyond the tenets in the story you shared.
Essay Option Two – 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.
Building on its Jesuit tradition, Georgetown cultivates a focus on service to community. This manifests through organized events (such as service days), clubs, and informal volunteer opportunities. For this essay question, share how your values regarding responsibility toward others support McDonough’s culture of selfless service.
Contrary to the previous essay option, for this essay, your example can be from any moment in your past—personal or professional, recent or from childhood. When selecting a story, ensure that it showcases what is truly unique about you and illustrates actions you took that were beyond the norm. The reader should be clear on what was at stake and how your thinking progressed as the situation unfolded. Perhaps you’ll want to share how your long-standing values gave you the strength to make a tough call. You could also show how your decision in this particular scenario differed from one you made in a different past experience that served as more of an example of “what not to do.” Regardless, make sure the admissions reader has a good grasp on your character and your “why” by the end of this essay.
Finally, focusing on growth is key. Describe how the experience has made a lasting impact on you. Take time to pause and reflect. How did you learn and improve after this experience? What changed about your actions, mind-set, or behavior as a result?
Essay Option Three – The 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.
This is a broad question that could take numerous directions, so make sure you are keeping the reader focused with your answer. Before you even begin writing, think about personal example(s) that you can directly connect to enriching the McDonough experience—for yourself and your future classmates.
When choosing what to share, put yourself in the admissions committee’s shoes. Consider how your essay could help them visualize where your presence will uplevel the McDonough experience for your classmates. Give enough background on what you choose to share so the admissions reader understands how core this example is to your character. Once again, do the work for the reader and connect the dots for them—what specific clubs, organizations, or classes would you contribute your unique characteristics to? And how exactly would you do so? To paint this picture as clearly as possible, ensure that you have a multitude of data points regarding McDonough beyond a cursory Google search. You’ll want to get to the heart of the program’s culture, so go deep in your one-on-one conversations with students and really do your research.
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.
The school’s video essay might feel “easy” at first glance because it is only one minute long, but there is a great deal of planning you should do leading up to that minute. A video essay offers a unique opportunity for you to showcase a side of you that does not necessarily come to life through the rest of your application—an unscripted (but methodically planned), fun aspect of who you are beyond your resume. What lights you up? Be sure that your authentic passion comes through as you are recording. Once again, connect the dots for the admissions committee to show how this aspect of your personality will allow you to make meaningful contributions to your future MBA class. How do you see yourself spreading your inner joy from this hobby or interest to your classmates?
You have a great deal of latitude to be visually creative here, compared to what you would have with a written essay, so use it to your advantage. Ensure that you are making an appearance on screen, but feel free to get creative with adding in other people or images.
Don’t forget to include your “why” in your video—this will help the admissions viewer feel a more personal connection to you as they hear your story. In a lot of ways, this video essay serves as a way to provide insight into how you would perform in an interview; be sure it feels natural and represents you well.
Optional Essay: Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included (300-350 words, approximately one page, double spaced).
The optional essay is one that should always be used judiciously. If you feel your application conveys a complete, accurate picture of who you are as a strong McDonough candidate, then you’re likely best off not submitting this optional essay. There’s little to be gained from adding to the admissions committee’s workload by asking them to read another essay that doesn’t add anything crucial to your profile.
However, if you do have an issue of some sort in your candidacy that could benefit from additional explanation (e.g., a difficult undergrad semester, a significant gap on your resume, not having your current supervisor as a recommender), then this is your chance to expound on and clarify it as necessary. Check out this article for Do’s and Don’ts of optional essays.
Re-Applicant Essay: Required for re-applicants. How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally (300-350 words, approximately one page, double spaced).
As a reapplicant, you should provide specific examples of how you have improved your profile from the last time you applied, whether you have taken on additional responsibilities at work, earned a promotion, improved your test score(s), learned a new skill, or picked up a new activity that has helped you grow. Be sure to express your continued interest in the McDonough MBA program by sharing any steps you have taken to learn more about the school and its community.
Remember, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is all about collaboration. It is a place where lifelong relationships are built between classmates and between students and professors. Each student is there to help one another succeed. Your ability to show how you can do this in this essay might be the difference between being invited into this highly collaborative, service-committed, internationally focused community or not.