Hits from the ‘Snarchives:
Part of the assessment in our Reworking Your Resume App Accelerator (which, by the way, is one of our most popular services – for good reason! everyone needs to redo their resume for their MBA apps) is a look at whether or not that important application asset is conveying teamwork. We got a question about…
In the spirit of hopefully helping you to avoid feeling like the world’s biggest idiot, today’s post is a reminder that you have to pay attention.
As in: Don’t forget to “accept all changes” before submitting your essay.
We were working with a BSer on a 4-School Set subscription last year. When we got their second set of essays, this time for Wharton, this is what the optional essay looked like:
We noticed right away that it was the same essay they’d already submitted to us for review with their first school – which is fine. Once you get your messaging down in one optional essay, you can re-use it for other apps. Submitting it again was totally appropriate. But there was something strange going on with the file; there was all this extra space in the right margin. We looked at the settings and the document had Show Changes set to “off” in the Revision Marks feature.
We set Show Changes to “on” and this is what we saw:
This BSer had apparently being doing their editing with Show Changes off.
And they had done that on a file we had sent back to them with comments.
The problem being, that that was the file that they sent to the school. One of their apps had already been submitted. Maybe they switched to PDF before uploading, in which case this is a non-issue – but if not?
The schools know that lots of BSers work with admissions consultants, and the comments made in that file are fully within the ethical boundaries for helping an applicant. Nobody violated any rules or crossed any lines with what was done.
We see this stuff every year, but oh does it cause stress among good BSers.
For career-changers, there can be some real complications to pitching a set of goals with credibility. We had a BSer struggling with defining his post-MBA career path last year and after many rounds of review with our Career Goals App Accelerator and lots of follow-up questions, he finally got to this important question: Also, for…
Another Saturday post! Yes, we’re around to support you through your Essay Panic Season!!!
Today we’re circling back to that critical reading exercise we posted last weekend – and darn it, we only had one brave Brave Supplicant participate! What’s up with that, people??
We’ll forgive you. Apparently EssaySnark’s idea of “fun” is not shared by all. A big THANK YOU to souvik who jumped in with both feet!!!
Did anyone else learn a new word here at EssaySnark recently? “Smurfing” – that one was new for us! (Apparently that term is used in a wide array of contexts though – we recommend not deploying that word in work conversations unless you’re VERY confident of what you’re saying and who you’re talking to! landmine)
If you didn’t read the article then you need to go do that now – in fact you may want to view it in this pop-up window right here so you can flip back and forth as we offer our critique.
You should also read the comments left by our intrepid BSer.
The one sentence that strikes us as outright ungrammatical is this one:
Hoggan received bonuses of $10,000 on six different occasions, and three others just above or below that amount, over a 13-month period in 2013 and 2014, according to information collected by the DHS, which oversees the TSA.
For starters, even if that sentence is not ungrammatical – or put more simply, even if it’s written correctly – it’s really difficult to figure it out. There’s way too many subordinate clauses and weird tangents strung together.
The part we’re sensing might be ungrammatical is “and three others” – we know what the writer MEANS by that (they’re referring to three bonuses in addition to the original six) but the way it’s written seems like “three others” refers to “occasions” not “bonuses” which just seems off. It’s been awhile since we were in the throes of GMAT Verbal Prep so we’re not 100% sure that it’s wrong, or if it is, what rule it is violating. But when it feels off, then that means you would benefit from rephrasing it.
That’s not the only issue with that sentence, though. It’s just clunky. Here’s how the ‘Snark would’ve written it:
Over a 13-month period from 2013 to 2014, Hoggan received nine bonuses of around $10,000 each, according to the DHS, which oversees the TSA.
Now, this edit does take away a specific element of information that we get in the original –but it’s so poorly conveyed that we don’t actually know if it’s important to the incident being reported or not.
With the term “smurfing” the reader is expecting to hear about how Hoggan broke the rules by manipulating how expenses were submitted in order to sidestep the policies. One example of that would be when employees can charge expenses of up to $500 on their corporate credit card without advance approval or a purchase authorization, and so an employee gets around that to make a $2,000 purchase by asking the vendor to charge $500 in four separate transactions.
So, we had thought the article was going to tell us that managers could award a $10,000 bonus to an employee without getting higher level approval… But this article isn’t about Hoggan’s boss. And we never hear the actual rule that had been smurfed. Was there a $10,000 limit on bonuses, or wasn’t there? It wasn’t specified. And even if there was, aren’t bonuses awarded by your manager? Who was manipulating the system to give Hoggan the $10k awards? Was he awarding them to himself?
This article should have made all of this much more clear.
And that one sentence is not even the biggest problem with that article. An even bigger problem is paragraph 4.
What in heck does paragraph 4 have to do with anything?!??
And OMG WTF passive voice? REALLY WAPO?
Here it is again in case you need a reminder – the offending Paragraph 4:
It was undercover agents from the inspector general’s office who last year were able to penetrate security checkpoints at U.S. airports while carrying illegal weapons or simulated bombs, 95 percent of the time.
When you’re writing your essays for bschool, then it’s VERY important that they flow. That the ideas are connected.
Our brave BSer Souvik sensed something was off with Paragraph 4. Here’s what he said about it:
It and was are both singular – I am not sure what that pair of subject and verb refer to. I think it is fine to use “it” in a sentence (such as the one I used right now), but they still need to refer to some concrete thing.
That’s close to identifying the issue, but really it’s clunky because it’s in the passive voice. Passive voice is not necessarily “wrong” but it’s NEVER the best way to write – not in essays, not in anything.
If you’re not sure about the “passive voice” thing…
Best trick ever to identify passive voice (which you don't want in your writing) – with zombies! https://t.co/lT5FaXXi6N
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 8, 2015
But guess what? THAT’S NOT THE ONLY ISSUE. Yes when we look at an essay, we will look for clear writing and proper grammar. That’s a hugely important part of your process of delivering your message to the reader.
But the other equally important (more important?) part is for everything you say to make sense. So not only do the MECHANICS of your writing need to be good, but you need to be WRITING CLEAR THOUGHTS.
Paragraph 4 is indeed about the TSA, but this article – at least, this opening portion that we’ve been looking at – has NOTHING TO DO WITH UNDERCOVER AGENTS TESTING THE SCREENING STATIONS BY BRINGING FAKE BOMBS THROUGH THE CHECKPOINT.
Paragraph 4 is completely out of context and ridiculous there. If that’s intended to be part of the article then either a) it needs to be included somehow in the introduction, or b) it needs to be moved to a totally separate part of the article, with an appropriate transition idea to link it in with the issue of bonuses and “smurfing.” If you read the entire article , it did in fact have this further down – but that one sentence did NOT belong up above where it had been placed. It was a total non-sequitur.
Souvik said some other cool stuff too – we actually encourage all of you
slackers very busy people who are actively procrastinating at essaysnark.com today to go comment on his comments, or make some of your own! The way you get better at this stuff is to PRACTICE IT.
We had a BSer ask us a very valid question about filling in the schools’ online applications recently and we thought we’d post our answer here for all of you. We also realized that even though we’ve answered stuff like this plenty o’ times, we don’t have an official blahg category on this topic so…
The “what ifs?” can drive you nuts. We hate to be the instigators of more mental distress among the BSer community. Gawd knows, there’s enough anguish and drama and second-guessing at so many stages of this MBA application obstacle course. But we sometimes wonder… What if a BSer had used us instead?
Yeah, we know, this sounds pretty self-serving. (And it’s not like we need to drum up more business. We’re plenty busy with lots of your BSer friends already this season.) But please hear us out.
If you know Serial, you know what we’re talking about. If you don’t… well, it’s really worth listening to in its entirety! The gist of it is, he was in high school, 17 years old or something, and his ex-girlfriend was murdered. And he got convicted of the crime. And we don’t really know if he did it or not. There’s definitely plenty of doubt. What seems clear is that his attorney fumbled the game tactically in some pretty significant ways.
Back to MBA admissions.
The reason for this post is that we frequently get introduced to a BSer early in the season, often through use of our Comprehensive Profile Review service, which is a great opportunity for us to lay out our assessment of where you’re at and how you might stack up against your specified target schools.
Oftentimes, that’s the only service that a BSer uses, and they go off and submit their apps on their own, maybe also taking advantage of our MBA essay guides for the top bschools. And then later we hear back, and we’re excited! Yay! They made it in! That’s always a moment of celebration – we don’t need to have been directly involved in your app process for us to still be excited to hear you got in. And, given how challenging this whole process is, and how competitive it is these days, we’re always super pleased and impressed when BSers navigate the whole thing on their own and land a plum spot at a top school.
But what happens when someone comes back and reports their admits – and we see that they got into a whole slew of very good MBA programs – but that they didn’t crack the top tier.
For example, a BSer from Rd 1 last season reported back to us in the Spring that they got into like 5 great schools. (We’re not going to name them since we don’t want to out this person in any way.) However, they weren’t successful in that top tier that they tried for.
We never saw their apps and we don’t know how they went about the essays, but clearly, given that they made it into some good schools, they did something right. That’s awesome!
We can’t help but wonder if perhaps having an extra advantage on their side, they could’ve also hit the topity top top, too.
We certainly cannot “get you in” to any school. Sometimes people use that phrase when they’re shopping for a consultant, and it’s just not how it works.
A top-notch MBA admissions consultant can absolutely help you strategize, and refine, and fine-tune things. Year after year, we work with BSers who had failed to convert any of their best-school apps the prior season, and they come to use for help as a reapplicant, and they do indeed land a spot at the very best of the best bschools thereafter.
So we can see from those results that we’re adding value.
Monday-morning quarterbacking does not help anyone. Who knows, maybe the BSer who shared their results with us would NEVER make it into a top-top school. Maybe they maxed out with the almost-top school that they landed.
But when we see someone make strong progress at the second-to-highest tier, yet fail to convert at the best of the best…. it just makes us wonder what might have been.