($) Where’s the line between spinning your stories, and lying?

After completing a resume review some months back, we got a very good question from a sincere BSer. This person is not coming from the traditional MBA profile and was struggling to put together a resume – a new task for them! As the post title indicates, they asked us: “Where is the line between…

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Continuing with our Interviewing Guide giveaway for those brave souls diving in with our Complete Essay Package, congratulations this week to rchinga! You’ll get an email from Team EssaySnark soon with details on sending you your free guide.

When all that hard work pays off…

We were tangentially involved in the process of getting in for one BSer last season and thought we’d share the note we received after we sent them our congratulations on their successes:

Hi squirrels,

I did see your comment on my success at [Great School] from last week — I’ve been enjoying something of a respite from, well, anything remotely productive since getting the good news, so getting back to you fell by the wayside for a few… weeks. As I’m sure you can imagine, getting the call from [Great School] was incredible news. They’ve been my top choice for as long as I’ve been interested in b-school, and all others have been attempts to hedge in one way or another (with the clarity of hindsight, Wharton was not a good fit for me, for example [despite the strong healthcare focus]). I just submitted the deposit today, and it feels amazing.

While I really appreciate the excellent quality of the CPR, résumé review, and strategy guides, I’d prefer not to share my story publicly (I’ve been very cautious through this process for a few reasons, and will need to continue to be so for a few more months, unfortunately). I would like to thank you for the help, though: The CPR, especially, might be the single most valuable step I took in the application process (I’ll make sure to review it on the website). Your combination of unvarnished truth, a la carte services at reasonable prices, and a little humor in a process that can be way too serious was exactly what I needed, and I hope it continues to pay off for you (I’m recommending you to a friend who’s applying next season as I type this). So thanks for everything,
[Brave Supplicant]

Thanks, former Brave Supplicant – we always appreciate the kind words and referring others our direction! (Did you know that we offer a referral bonus? Have your friend submit your name to us through My SnarkCenter after they sign up and well send you a thank-you gift in appreciation!) This BSer is now well on their way to bschool so no risk in sharing this now… we understand the need for discretion along the way. Good luck to them, and GOOD LUCK TO YOU! We hope you also make it into your first-choice school this year!!!!

Fail early.

There’s this odd fetish in Silicon Valley these days with failure. It’s, like, celebrated and stuff. We don’t get it.

No of course we get it – in the context of startups, we understand that any successful venture is unlikely to be successful the very first time out of the gate. The adage is to iterate fast and go through lots of ideas and find the ones that really work – and pursue them relentlessly – and if you realize that they don’t work, well, don’t sweat it, cross that one off as a failure and pivot or whatever and dump all your drive and ambition into the next plan. The assumption is that you need to make some mistakes before you find your groove.

(That’s oversimplified but it’s our take on the general attitude out in CA.)

While we’re not a fan of “celebrating” failure since failure is, um, whassicalled, oh yeah, failure – we also can tell you that in the domain of bschool admissions, if you’re going to fail – that is, not make it in – then we strongly encourage you to get that out of the way early.

Like, early.

You really need to apply in Round 1.

Not only are there advantages in terms of chances of admission, particularly at the top-top schools and even more particularly for residents of any super-oversubscribed class (at any top school, not just top-top ones) but Round 1 also offers this major huge advantage TO YOU. If you don’t get in, then you have actionable information you can then use in Round 2. Basically, if your Round 1 apps go over with a thud, then guess what? You now know that they sucked! You can adjust course and try again in Round 2. That is just all-around HUGE in terms of advantages.

If you wait till Round 2 for your first apps, then it’s all of those eggs in the proverbial one basket. There is no Round 3 (well, there is, but it’s really not a smart move for most people at most schools).

Hopefully all of you BSers won’t fail AT ALL! Hopefully your first apps will be your last apps.

But nobody can guarantee that.

This is why you need to be getting yourself in gear for Round 1.

There are some cases when it will prove impossible. If your GMAT score just isn’t up to snuff, then obviously no, we’re not suggesting to apply anyway. You need to have your apps be the best they can be. Don’t just cram in a bunch of submits because it’s supposed to be “easier to get in.” It’s never “easy” for anyone. The ones who sail through the process are the ones who bust butt and put in the work to make it happen in the months and, usually, year(s) before ever getting ready to push that little Submit button.

If you’re just waking up to the reality that Round 1 is on its way, there’s still time! Just don’t let this precious opportunity slip past due to some avoidable unable-to-get-it-togetherness on your part.

F@ck failure. May we soon be celebrating your successes in Snarkville!

($) What we recommend you don’t do in your Stanford essays.

Honestly, if you’re applying to Stanford, you need to pick up our Stanford essay guide. We keep getting confirmation after confirmation that our advice is sound (besides the obvious fact that our clients get in all the time! 😀 ). First it happened in the biggest way possible this year: Harvard (sort of) changed their…

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Yes schools do background checks.

No that’s not the reason you should not lie on your MBA applications.

You should not lie because you are a good person, with ethics and morals. Good people do not lie.

“But EssaySnark! I know somebody who lied and got in!

Yeah, so? That does not mean that you should do it, does it?

Who are you going to live with for the rest of your life?

The answer to that question is YOURSELF.

If you’re the kind of person for whom lying on something like an application to business school is no big deal – or someone who will go into a Columbia Early Decision or Duke Early Action application knowing that they’ll ditch out on that school after acceptance if a “better” offer comes along – or someone who writes their own letters of recommendation – well sorry, you’re not the kind of BSer we care to work with. We invite you to exit stage left. This blahg is not for you.

In fact, you cannot claim to be a “BSer” – a term we use with affection, referring to all those earnest and motivated bschool candidates who hang around here in Snarkville, working hard to do their best on improving themselves and earning what they get in life. If you are willing to lie and cheat and steal your way into bschool – which, yes, is the category under which we put things like renegging on a binding Early Decision admit – then you’re not deserving of the “BSer” moniker. Because “BSer” stands for Brave Supplicant, and that sort of get-one-over me-me-me behavior does not count as “brave.” You are a bullshitter through and through and we don’t want to know you.

[EssaySnark shakes self.]

Oh my. Was I raving?

OK back to the topic at hand.

The other reason not to lie on your MBA apps? BECAUSE THEY WILL CATCH YOU.

This should not be your motivation for doing the right thing in life, but maybe it will help to understand the stakes.

Most if not all of the top MBA programs in the U.S. now conduct background checks on admitted students. Some do this at random, some do it for all. Yes you have to pay for the privilege of going through this process. You agree to it when you submit your app. It’s similar to a pre-employment verification process that many big companies require (without the drug test – some of you may be relieved to hear that news 😉 ) and it’s totally legit and legal.

Wouldn’t it be a shame to work hard on every aspect of your MBA applications for over a year and then get the admit woo-hoo!!! and then BLAMO they say “Sorry, we discovered too many discrepancies in what you have reported, we are revoking your admit.”

If this makes you nervous: Well it should.

They’re not going to rescind an acceptance for innocent errors like messing up your dates of employment by a few days or getting a couple dollars off on the salaries that you reported.

Yes, those are details that they verify with past employers.

If they find issues like those, they will either ask you to explain or they may not even be concerned with them, depending on how minor they are.

If it’s something more severe – like, fabricating a past position, or massaging your job title a little too aggressively – those can be no-gos, depending.

None of this is worth it.

Live life on the up-and-up, BSer. Don’t go into it having to always look over your shoulder. You’ll give yourself ulcers. It’s not a nice way to be.

Since we’re marginally on the subject: If you are interviewing MBA admissions consultants and deciding who to go with to help you with your all-important application strategy, and you encounter one who tells you that you should include Columbia Early Decision among your apps to, say, Harvard and Stanford in Round 1, “just in case” – then our advice is run screaming. One of the best ways to identify an ethically compromised consultant is that exact advice. It’s someone who simply does not understand, nor respect, the process. Who knows what other questionable strategies they will suggest you employ?