Ivey MBA essays

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All about Ivey MBA Essays and Ivey as the top Canadian Business School

Ivey MBA Essays
After a number of years with the same essay set, Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in Canada has refurbished its essay set. Ivey MBA essays haven’t been completely revamped, but one of them has been completely changed. Now, Ivey applicants will be facing a lot more competition and will see a lot more selectivity (not implying that the selectivity was low earlier), as more MBA applicants target top Canadian business schools for their MBA.

In the Financial Times MBA ranking, Ivey has not been ranked very favorably historically. We believe that Ivey’s low ranking is in contrast to the high quality of education and strong career opportunities it offers to its students, and consider this to be a case of an outstanding school ranked low.

We have earlier posted articles on how we feel that the FT ranking does not completely reflect reality always and why the ranks of various schools cannot be taken at face value in all cases.

Richard Ivey MBA essays and analysis

Q1. What are your short-term career plans immediately post-MBA, and why is an Ivey MBA essential to those plans? (250 word limit)

GyanOne analysis: This essay continues from years past. It reflects Ivey’s continued focus on understanding its applicants’ career objectives and determining how well the school could help these applicants fulfill these objectives.

Some applicants make the mistake of assuming that this is a regulation essay that is more of a formality – simply mentioning broad career goals and overall reasons for how Ivey fits in with those will do.

Absolutely not! Ivey is particular in ensuring that you are clear about what you wish to achieve, why an MBA is even important to achieve that objective, and why you are choosing Ivey, and not some other school that is similar to Ivey. For international applicants, reasons for applying to Ivey gain even more importance.

To prepare well for this essay, understand in-depth your career plans, and scrutinize, evaluate, and question them. This essay is brief, so it will not call upon you to express that entire detail into the essay, but the understanding helps!

Expressing as much as this essay asks in just 250 words will be very difficult otherwise. Similarly, gain an understanding of the program you are applying to – why this program/school? If you are smart, you will also be able to relate the first and the second parts of your answer into a seamless whole, rather than simply listing out common features of the Ivey MBA.

ivey campus

Richard Ivey School of Business campus

Q2. Tell us about a challenge you have faced in your life, and what lessons you learned from it. (250 word limit)

GyanOne analysis: It’s like George Herbert said: “The greater the challenge, the sweeter the victory.”
In other words, when you’re facing a daunting task, you can look at it in two ways: “Oh no! The worst! I give up!” or “Oh good! A chance to prove myself!”

Ivey wants to see that you’re more of a #2 than a #1. So let’s talk about how you can show them that in your MBA application essay. Business school is all about challenges. You have to have a thick skin when it comes to them, because you’re going to be facing them every day. So, as you think about this experience, make sure that the challenge was something you had no control over. That way you can talk about how it made you feel out of control and vulnerable, which will connect it to your MBA experience.

First, pick a challenge. It can be anything from a major life event to something that happened in your professional or personal life. Here are some examples of challenges you could write about for this Ivey MBA essay:

  • A major obstacle in your career
  • A difficult decision you made and why
  • An ethical dilemma or difficult decision you had to make in your life

The challenge you select should be fairly recent and significant. Ideally, it would have occurred within the last five years or so, and it should have had a major impact on your life. So don’t pick something like when you lost your first tooth, or when you first learned to ride a bike; those are both neat-o stories, but they’re not particularly relevant to the Ivey MBA program.

Instead, think of a time in the last several years when something happened that caused you to reevaluate a core belief of yours. For example, maybe you thought that you would always live in [city name], but then you got a job offer to work in [city name]. That’s a challenge! What are you going to do? Do you take the job? What if your family is there? What if all of your friends are there?

Next, explain what happened.

Once you’ve identified a challenge that was significant enough to merit discussion in an essay for an MBA program, the next step is to discuss what happened. How did things unfold? How did you react? And importantly, how did your reaction change over time as events unfolded? This is what gives your story its narrative shape—the arc of conflict and your rising up to the challenge.

In this section, Ivey wants to know what you learned from this experience. Don’t just summarize the story: give them some insight into what it taught you about life and yourself. If possible, try to connect it back to business school somehow so that they can see how going through this experience has prepared you for success in the program.

For example, if an essay is asking for a discussion of your leadership experience, you shouldn’t spend 75% of the space talking about how much you love working in teams. That’s not what they asked. You should be answering their question directly, instead of shifting the focus off of what they want to hear about.

Looking to apply to top Canadian MBA programs?

GyanOne has a 100% success record of helping its clients make it to top Canadian schools like Ivey, Rotman, Queen’s, Sauder, and Schulich. See some of our testimonials here, here, and here. If you are applying to a Canadian MBA program, Contact us today! to know how we can help you too, or just for a free profile evaluation!

Q3. Scholarship essayPlease feel free to complete the scholarship essay in a word document and then paste it into this area.The scholarship essay should be no longer than 500 words and should specifically address the questions outlined below. Please feel free to copy and paste from other parts of your Ivey MBA application.

Paragraph 1:Outline your intended career goal after completing the Ivey MBA program.Be as specific as possible indicating industry as well.

Paragraph 2:Highlight key examples of your academic and professional successes to-date.

Paragraph 3:Please provide examples of demonstrated leadership from your previous employment and/or from within the community.

The scholarship essay is optional, but filling it in doesn’t affect your chances of admission, so no harm at all in going for it. This essay too has been around for a while, and is not a change in the Ivey MBA essays since.

For this one, focus on highlighting your differentiators, and not simply a list of your achievements, though the essay seems to at first glance be asking for that. Similarly, when you discuss leadership (para 3), create impact – do not make the mistake of assuming that holding a designation or a role constitutes leadership. Think action!

Q4. Two video essays* (to be recorded live)

Video essays are a new feature introduced by Ivey in the 2016-17 application, and they continued thereafter. For starters, this video from Ivey itself provides context into what Ivey is expecting from applicants in this component.

Overall, we feel that the video essays are much less bothersome than most applicants actually make them out to be.

As long as you keep your communication crisp, and go over a few examples of your life and work, you should be ready to tackle almost anything that Ivey throws at you. The essay topics are all meant to be addressed impromptu, and there will be no question that requires research/expertise to answer.

Ivey MBA deadlines 

Application Deadlines (general):

Round 1: 1st week of February

Round 2: 1st week of April

Round 3: 2nd week of July

Round 4: 3rd week of September

Round 5: 2nd week of November

Round 6: 1st week of January

International applicants should apply by Round 4. Do note also that although Ivey has deadlines, it follows a rolling process. Submit your application earlier to have a higher chance of admission.


Want to check out more on Ivey MBA?

GyanOne Ivey MBA Admission Success Stories

Ivey MBA Interview Questions

Richard Ivey MBA Admissions Team Interviews with GyanOne

MBA scholarship at Rotman and Ivey: Tough Dilemma for an Indian CA


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