Describe an ethical dilemma you have faced and how you resolved the issue.

This is hands down my favorite of the three essays we require for our UST MBA application. It illustrates the extraordinary character and breadth of experience UST MBA students bring into the program. Occasionally, though, some of my applicants quite badly misunderstand what is an ethical dilemma. So let’s turn to the sage wisdom of Wikipedia:

Ethical dilemma is a complex situation that will often involve an apparent mental conflict between moral imperatives, in which to obey one would result in transgressing another.

So, whether or not to steal a loaf of bread is not an ethical dilemma. Whether or not to steal a loaf of bread when your niece is starving and you have no possible way of obtaining work or food due to corrupt government and extreme poverty is, in fact, an ethical dilemma, (thank you Victor Hugo).

Ensuring that you never take paperclips from the office supply closet is not an ethical dilemma, and frankly, it’s not a very impressive dilemma of any sort. What about the time your boss asked you to do something you thought was a little too “grey,” but you really needed a good score from him/her on your upcoming performance review to get a raise. The raise will be important because you just bought a house. Besides, you’re not convinced fudging the numbers a little is actually illegal. What do you do? That’s a good ethical dilemma.

Take it from me, a thoughtful description of a true ethical dilemma can go a long way in your application to the UST MBA program.