We wrote an article a looooooong time ago for Yahoo! titled “Choosing a Business School is Like Dating.”
We were inspired to revisit that apps-as-dating topic by Chicago’s @Booth_Insider comment on a Twitter chat that we talked about awhile ago. In response to a question from a candidate about “school fit” the Booth person said that applying to/attending bschool (they didn’t specify but it works for both) “is like a marriage.”
The dating metaphor actually works quite well for this whole bschool admissions dance.
You are attracted to a pretty girl (or boy – we’re using a girl in this piece, work with us please) and you decide to get to know her (attend an info session, visit the school). You decide you want to ask her out, so you get yourself ready by putting on some nice clothes and maybe adding a dash of cologne – not too much – and combing down your hair (GMAT, GPA, essays) – and then you realize that your hair is irredeemable in its current state and no amount of gel is gonna fix it, so you go get a haircut first (rewrite your essays), and then you ask her out (submit the app). She takes a look and says, “Maybe” and decides to give you a chance (interview invite!!!). You put on your best suit and you bring roses and you open the car door for her … OK EssaySnark is going overboard now but you get the point.
This is a courtship. You need to be bringing your best – and you need to show what you can offer to the other side of the relationship.
The way you demonstrate who you are in application essays is by being who you are. This means answering the questions in your own words, in natural language (avoid the stilted hyperbole million-dollar words fluff that people often write – please don’t put on airs in your essays) and it means giving details.
When your date asks, “What do you do?” You don’t say, “Stuff.” You explain your job in terms she can understand – without industry jargon gobbledygook – at a level of detail that is respectful and clear – not all the way down in the weeds of the mechanics of your day-to-day, just the right amount so that she gets it.
You don’t brag, but you’re not afraid to share with her your excitement about your achievements. When it comes from a genuine place, it’s automatically humble, not arrogant.
You’re respectful of her time. You don’t keep her out too late, you bring her home when she requested (you don’t submit essays that are overlimit).
You wait for her to contact you for the next steps. You don’t hound her and stalk her to pressure her into seeing you again. You’re not (ahem) pushy.
You see? It’s a delicate dance. Yes, it’s exciting, and you want to just go YOWZER I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU PLEASE TAKE ME!
But you don’t. You work through the steps of the courtship with care and patience, trusting that all will work out in the end, as everything always does.
Does that help you understand ‘school fit’, Brave Supplicant?
No, it probably doesn’t. But maybe it does, if you think about it.