An early conversation you need to have with yourself.

EssaySnark does not condone talking to yourself.

People look at you weird when you do.

(Not like we have any experience with that or anything.)

Today however, even though it’s a long holiday here in the U.S., we thought we’d put up a post with a recommendation to do exactly that. Whether or not you’re celebrating Independence Day in America, you will hopefully have a few minutes to yourself at some point in the next few days. We suggest that you take some time – you could even do it right now, as soon as you finish reading this – and sit yourself down and have a little conversation. A pen and paper may be useful for this exercise, though you can do it all in your head too. Or, you could involve any partner or parents or significant others in your life, though you may want to talk to yourself about the topic first to see where you stand with it.

The conversation we recommend that you have with yourself is,

“Can I really afford this?”

Otherwise known as, “Holy Guacamole, Bschool Is Expensive!!!!!!!!!”

Higher education in the U.S. is an industry that gets away with constantly raising its prices. As in, every single year, tuition increases at almost every single bschool that we’ve ever heard of. Nice job if you can get it, eh? Of course, the school administrators are always claiming that they don’t have enough money to fund their important programs. The business schools on many top campuses are actually revenue-positive; MBA programs and all of their associated degree opportunities tend to bring in profits for the parent university. In this otherwise-unrelated video, Rich Lyons, the dean of UC Berkeley Haas, justifies the ever-increasing tuition at top schools by claiming that they are providing more value today than they did 10 years ago . And he states that average salaries of graduating MBAs has also been increasing over that time.

That may be true, but just because the average is going up does not mean that YOU will score a starting salary that’s at that number. (Remember, that’s how averages work – there’s a bunch of datapoints above and below the average, and sometimes they are way below.) Nobody can guarantee you what your exiting salary will be. What we can guarantee you is you’ll be on the hook for the same cost of tuition as everyone else is.

You cannot go into this assuming you’re going to get a bunch of scholarship money. Please do not misunderstand the situation. About 25% or so of admitted students get some offers of free money, and those typically are reserved for the applicants that the schools most heavily want to bring on board their programs – meaning, exceptionally high achievers, and women, and underrepresented minorities. If you’re in one of those groups then yes, there is more of a chance for such financial aid freebies but nobody should presume that it will be coming. Look at it this way: If you believe that you deserve to get paid for the benefit of increasing your lifetime earning potential then you have a mighty high view of your value in this world. Most people are happy with simply getting in to a top school, much less going into the process with their hand out. Perspective, people.

Our Accepted Student’s Guide covers a whole bunch of actions you should take once you’re in at a top school. Most people wait till they’re, uh, accepted before picking that up, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a gander at it earlier in the process. This is especially true for some of you international students wondering about financial aid.

The best kindness you can do to yourself NOW, sitting here a full year out from when you’ll actually be starting your MBA, is to begin saving. You will need more money than you realize to fund this little endeavor – and yes, that’s true even though you’re likely planning on getting student loans to cover the bulk of it. Most (all?) student loans do not disburse to you until you’re physically on campus, about to start the actual education itself. They typically do NOT cover the costs of actually GETTING TO campus. As in, moving long distance. Furnishing a new apartment. PAYING FOR that new apartment. They also don’t cover the couple-thousand-dollar-or-more deposit that you’ll be required to pay to hold your spot once you’re admitted.

If you’re interested in going to school in an expensive city – and face it, if you’re an international student, all American cities are going to seem expensive (have you seen the rents in the San Francisco Bay Area these days????) – then you really need to start implementing a financial plan, starting NOW.

Every little bit you save from this day forward will help you.

We recommend opening a special savings account (or shoe box) where you only put stuff in, and don’t take anything out, every single week for the next six months. And put stuff of significance in. If you only deposit $20 (or its equivalent in your currency) every week, you’re going to end up with $500. That’s chump change in the context we’re talking. Try for $50 a week, minimum. If you end up with $500, then that’s $500 more than you have saved now, but it’s still not going to take you very far in the real world. Don’t forget, too, most people need way more than that in actual application fees this Fall, just to get those apps in at the schools. Begin your active savings endeavor today.

And spend some time this weekend looking at the actual cost of attendance at these schools. Be honest with yourself. Is your financial situation such that you’ll be able to really pull this off? Many people only face up to this once they’re accepted, and then it’s like being doused with cold water: You get the coveted win and you’re in! But then you realize that it’s out of reach. How completely awful and depressing that would be.

Reality, Brave Supplicants. We invite you to live in it.

To review: The nearly-identical post last year exhorting the past season’s crop of BSers to do the same. We should just put this blahg on autopilot, republishing the same thing we said the year before. And the year before. :-)

It’s a 3-day weekend here in the U.S. – Happy Fourth of July, everyone! We will be only lightly staffed in Snarkville, and turnaround dates will be adjusted for new materials being sent in. YOU should be working on your essays; WE will catch up with that work you do starting on Monday.

Our annual “Bubble??” post

People seem to always be talking about bubbles. This is an especially popular worry to be intellectualizing about – practically a national pastime – ever since the 2008 financial crisis. Since every adult alive today experienced the very real drama and even scariness of that era, it’s still fresh in the minds. And, humans like to worry. It’s just what we do.

So it’s not surprising to see the worry about possible bubbles migrate from asset class to asset class, and even to other elements of the economic ecosystem. Like the MBA. On a fairly regular basis we get doom-and-gloom articles from the media forecasting the end of the MBA as we know it. There are warnings about too many MBAs graduating, and too high tuitions, and all sorts of worry about the over-inflation of the degree.

Today’s post is not actually about that.

Today’s post is about the frothiness that many are seeing in the VC market. Where new ventures that don’t really have a viable business model underneath the business are still getting funded at huge valuations lickety split.

It’s similar to what (some of) you may remember from the first Internet boom.

Actually no. Probably most of you reading this today weren’t business-aware when the dot-com crash happened in 2001.

That was the era of and and And Webvan, and Kozmo. Names you probably don’t even recognize.

We won’t bore you with a history of those startups but let’s just say that they don’t exist anymore. And as they tanked, so did the economy.

The reason we mention this again is the same reason we did last year in a similar post. There are more and more bschools jumping on this entrepreneurship bandwagon. Maybe it’s something you’re keen on, too.

But going to business school is probably THE MOST EXPENSIVE way to start a company.

And how you fare with it will all come down to pure timing, and luck.

Say you’re looking to start your MBA this fall. And you’re going to start building this business that you’re hot to trot for. Awesome.

Or maybe you have a +1 year timeline, where you’re only starting to put together your plan to apply this fall, in order to start in 2016. Great. No problem.

But what if the economy cools in between here and there?

Or more precisely, what if it tanks? What if all funding for bright eyed and bushy tailed MBA students just dries up?

If it happens soon enough, then you can pivot (see what we did there? 😉 ) and go get that consulting job that you have in your back pocket. Or you can try for one, provided you haven’t missed the on campus recruiting cycle, during those weeks and months that you were head-down diligently working on your business plan for your awesome Idea That Will Change The World.

No matter what, you’ll still graduate with your MBA. The degree has value. The experience is transformative. It’s worthwhile. You should be able to use that currency in some marketplace or another. Well, provided that whatever meltdown in the VC markets hasn’t spilled over to all other parts of the economy and caused all MBA hiring to freeze up.

EssaySnark was starting to get mildly concerned about the possibility of a startup bubble about a year ago, mostly after hearing some VCs we respect sound some warning bells about it. However we’re feeling more and more concerned about it now. Here’s a recent post from one of those VCs that touches on these issues. It doesn’t require much effort at all to find similar stuff out there.

Have you seen what’s happened to the real estate market in the San Francisco area? Prices are worse than Manhattan.

Things are tightening, and not in a positive way, if you ask us.

Those signs of frothiness are a concern.

Maybe it depends on what happens with interest rates, and the global economy, and things like Greece and debt and everything else.

Bubbles are very difficult to predict. If it were easy, then everyone would see them coming and step to the side, and then it wouldn’t be a bubble, would it?

Some people are more wired to see the possible catastrophes around every turn, and others find glee in predicting utter crisis and mayhem. We try not to be that type, but you can find them at any happy hour.

If we keep predicting a possible bubble every year, then eventually we’re gonna be right. 😉

All we can say is, with the mass exodus of so many BSers from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, the get-rich-quick mentality that is the underlying driver for many MBA students has transferred from derivatives trading to some glamorized view of entrepreneurship.

If you time it right – and you actually do have a good idea – and you don’t burn out before you can get it off the ground – then sure, you could be the Next Big Thing.

We just hope you’re doing your research and going into all of this with a level head on your shoulders, understanding the risks and appreciating the lessons of history.

And hopefully we’ll be wrong! There are very smart minds saying that no, we’re not in a bubble at all . (Pro Tip: Go through that slide deck and examine the argument. Can you follow it? Read the charts. Do you understand what they’re saying? If you don’t, then sure, you will learn the tools that will let you be more fluent in such analyses in bschool – but it would surely help if you have some of those tools now, before you launch into that journey.)

All we can say is, none of us wants to live through another bubble bursting.

If entrepreneurship is in your blood and you’re chomping at the bit to pitch the adcoms with how you’re going to go conquer the world with your new startup, launched through bschool…. please read our Career Goals Research Starting Point on Entrepreneurship first. Do it now. Thanks.

($) Are you too old to get into business school?

Short answer: No, definitely not. Nuanced and more accurate answer: It depends on what you mean by “business school.” If you’re asking, “Am I too old to get into a hypercompetitive full-time American MBA program?” Then it all depends on who you are and why you want to go and what’s happening with your profile…

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Remember: Your first drafts are going to suck.

Whenever anybody sends in material for review by EssaySnark, we know that they think that it’s good.

Err well waitaminit… Sometimes people just phone it in. No idea why anyone would do that. After all if you’re paying for our help on your apps, we’d think that you’d put in the most effort possible to do as well as you can on everything before asking for feedback. You send in sloppy illogical typo-ridden crap to us, we’re going to get stuck on critiquing that. (Plus it may prove a little irksome, given all the resources available to you to do a better job the first time out.)

There’s a difference between a sucky first draft that’s sucky because all first drafts are sucky, and the phone-it-in type who just half-@ssed their way through, slapping some words together and calling it a day.

Today we’re talking about the sucky first draft phenomenon.

This is just how it works in any kind of writing.

Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of everything is shit.”

Yup, he said that, he really did. And he would know!!!

The difference when you’re not A Writer is that you may not realize that your first draft is shit. Or maybe you do and you don’t know how else to change things to make it better. Which is of course why you’ve enlisted our help in the process.

There’s also this thing called the Dunning-Kruger Effect which is a cognitive bias whereby absolute beginners – the unskilled – produce some work which they believe is much better than it actually is.

Yeah. That.

Now, despite the fact that your first draft will suck, and that when you send it in to us for review it will come back fully decimated (which is in fact why we named our review service that) you may still have trouble dealing with the fact that your precious essay-baby was obliterated by the ‘Snark’s critique. When you get your first draft critiques back, then you should take a deep breath, and recognize that everybody goes through this, acknowledge that perhaps you too fell victim to that cognitive bias thing we mentioned that everyone falls victim to, and then turn to this post on how to deal with the feedback you’ll receive. It’s very likely to be overwhelming.

Or, if you’re not yet at the point where you’re ready to submit any first drafts – ‘cuz like they haven’t been written yet – then we STRONGLY suggest you look into our Complete Essay Package, which is designed to help you identify and develop the building blocks of your pitch, in a step-by-step process. The Complete Essay Package is the best way to ensure that the essay reviews you receive back on those first drafts are not all full of “Nope, no, not gonna work” but are instead full of “Good to see you opening with this, this is important” and “OK, this has potential, but…” and “Maybe if you switched this around with that…” and even here or there a “Yes!!”

The fact that all first drafts are crap is the other reason why we always harp on BSers to get started early. (Translation: NOW.) Good essays come through revision. Revision takes time. This is not an overnight process – not if you expect things to hold together in a logical progression of thoughts that are targeted and specific, and that answer the question with the appropriate levels of insight and depth.

Sitting here right exactly at this point on the calendar is an IDEAL time to get started on those Round 1 applications.

We’re here to help when you’re ready for it!

($) Talking about transcripts

If you’re planning on applying to business school this Fall then there’s at least one important area you should get moving on now: Ordering your college transcripts. This is particularly important for international applicants who may be subject to unwieldy bureacracies in simply getting the transcripts in hand, AND – very important – if your…

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The secret of MOMENTUM

Today EssaySnark is going to let you in on a little life secret.

This can truly change things for you on a daily basis and on to forevermore.

This trick is especially relevant and helpful for those of you currently studying for the GMAT. (If you’ll recall from our post awhile ago, if you have yet to take the GMAT, then NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT!)

Here’s the secret:

When you work towards a goal, and you build up the momentum of actively trying to accomplish it … and then one day comes along that you ACTUALLY DO accomplish it … do NOT treat that as “Goal Finished!”

In other words, don’t put on your flight suit and go out on the deck of the aircraft carrier with a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner displayed. Not just yet.

Instead, recognize that yes, you’ve got one major milestone behind you, but the PROJECT IS STILL IN PROGRESS.

This is crucially important – not just for getting all the pieces in line for your MBA application, but for any long-term complexicated project that you may undertake in life.

When you study study study and then you NAIL the GMAT test, woo-hoo congratulations!! That’s definitely worth a beer in celebration.

However, don’t then unplug yourself from the diligence of “MBA Prep Mode.”

What you want to do is cascade that positive energy and massive momentum of DAILY WORK HABIT that you’ve built up in the GMAT study zone, into the next step of the process.

If you consider your GMAT test success as “Done!” then what you’re doing is setting yourself up for a much more difficult experience: You are mentally closing the door on the project and wiping your hands of it. And if you take a vacation from that – either mentally, or temporally by letting all MBA application tasks wallow untended for a matter of weeks thereafter, well, it’s gonna be a lot harder to pick up the pieces again.

You’ll essentially be starting all over.

Everyone knows that an object in motion stays in motion.

Once you drop the ball on MBA application work, then you have to a) find the ball (where did that durn then roll off to anyway? is it behind the couch??), and b) decide to pick up the ball again (probably the hardest part!), and then c) actually bend your ass over and heave the thing up off the ground – yet it will seem as if it’s weighed of concrete now, since you won’t have picked it up in so long and the muscles you use to do so will go flabby.

Yes, flabby.

Yes, in just a few weeks.

Whenever you reach a peak in accomplishment, in any context of life, you should take a moment or two to be super proud of yourself – nay, even a little gloating and self-satisfaction (internally expressed) may be in order. But then without hesitation, you should pivot into the Next Big Thing, and start to tackle that.

If you don’t, you’ll be forever cursing yourself with Starting Overs, and Beginning Agains, and oh gawd I don’t wanna deal with its. If your attitude is always, ONWARD!!! well then, it’s so much easier to continually make progress. Leaps and bounds, even.

The hardest part of going to the gym is just putting your shoes on. Once your shoes are on, you’re going.

Putting the shoes on is a decision. For all changes, big or small, in life, it’s making that decision that matters.

Once you do that, everything is possible.

Go forth and conquer, Brave Supplicant! To bschool and beyond!


Want some more structured support – to help you get your shoes on? The Rd 1 MBA Countdown is still accepting sign-ups!