We spoke recently about the Personal Statement as part of an application to many (non-MBA) master’s programs, and voila! A Brave Supplicant has surfaced with a draft they want to be snarked up. This is for one of the Master of Science programs at the London School of Economics (good school!), in this case their…
We mean that it’s likely the hardest thing you’ve ever tried to pull off.
We mean that you can’t treat it casually, if you’re serious about making it a success.
We mean that what you think is going to be the hard part, almost definitely won’t be. Other parts will be harder. (Way harder.)
We mean that just being “good enough” — which you almost undoubtedly have been already all through your life, based on where you’ve managed to get so far — is unlikely to be TRULY enough.
Most people who even start to consider themselves worthy for admission to one of the best U.S. business schools are already successful in life. That means, that they may be under an illusion about how easy life really is. Or maybe not – maybe you’ve had to work super hard for your successes, and you’ve experienced lots of setbacks, and you’ve had to rebuild yourself from the ground up over and over and keep going.
Lots of BSers, though, come from reasonably privileged backgrounds. This is a basic fact. If you’re in a position to be trying for bschool, then that means you have a college education and usually a job. You have the $250 to take the GMAT and the additional $1,000 or whatever that you’ll be doling out in app fees to the schools. (Oh, hadn’t budgeted for that yet? Yeah, this MBA thing is expensive! And that’s before you’ve even gotten accepted!)
If you’ve lived a life of privilege — admit it, you have — then it’s easy to forget how hard life can be.
We’re not about to make the false equivalency of claiming that applying to bschool is a situation of survival.
What we are saying is that opportunities have been made available to you already in life, and with a certain amount of success often comes a certain amount of entitlement. Or just forgetfulness. We EXPECT to win in life, because winning is what has happened in the past.
If you’ve already gone through the competitive admissions game* to get into a top American university like Harvard or Stanford or Princeton or Yale, then you definitely have an appreciation for this. The admit rate to Stanford University (undergrad) in 2016 for their Class of 2021 was 4.8%. That’s even harder than Stanford GSB, which has been hovering at 6.7-7.0% for ages. But that admit you scored to Stanford U. or comparable was at minimum four years ago, and probably closer to ten, and could you still make it in today? The admit rate for Stanford undergrad in 2010 was 7.3% which is radically different. In just the same way, admission to these MBA programs has gotten harder and harder.
Plus, the MBA adcoms will not be amused by cuteness. What you could get away with as a high schooler writing your essays is not going to fly here. This is an application from a PROFESSIONAL (that’s you) to a PROFESSIONAL PROGRAM (that’s the school). Sometimes they call the MBA a “vocational” program because it’s much more focused on practical skills and career paths than many other types of higher education. You don’t go to bschool to learn philosophy or theory (though you will learn theory); you go there to learn how to get stuff done.
The schools don’t want to be bullshitted in their applications. And we know how hard that’s gonna be for some of you! You’re used to bullshit. It’s practically a way of life! It’s served you well so far. There’s no problem with bullshit, it’s just not the currency you’re going to need to be dealing with when it comes to writing your apps.
Have you ever been involved in an elite-level performance? Like, a symphony-quality musician, a top swimmer, or played on a champion sports team? Are you a Ranger, or a Navy Seal? Then you know what it means to train.
That’s similar to the type of effort that’s required for most successful applicants to a top MBA program, albeit in a totally different context. No, you’re not going to get shot at while you’re drafting up essays, but yes, you’re going to need to carve out significant time, and be prepared for some stumbles and difficulties, as you gear up for this exercise.
The first time out, you may not make it. Lots of very well-qualified people don’t. Often that’s because they lack an appreciation for the challenges, and they exert the same level of effort that’s worked for them to make it where they are now. That level of effort is unlikely to be sufficient in this endeavor.
That’s why we’re so pleased to see you here now, early enough in the season to make the most of your opportunities.
If you’re in a position to be considering an app to a top school, that means that you’ve already achieved a certain level of success in life. Don’t take that success for granted. If you’re serious about getting into a place like Harvard Business School, then this is going to take some work.
*Admissions isn’t really a “game” but that was the best word that fit there; please excuse our sometimes preference for rhythm and flow over precision in our writing on these here blahgs.
We’re always thrilled when a Brave Supplicant we know makes it into a school of their dreams.
We’re even more thrilled when they stay in touch with us as they actually go to bschool, and share news of their subsequent successes along the way.
We got a report from one such former BSer last fall and we’re happy to be able to share it with you today:
Hello Essay Snark,
Apologies for the severely delayed reply to both of your emails.
I am going to start working full-time at McKinsey.
It just seems so long ago when I first started reading your blog (about 3.5 years). MBA has been such a crazy wonderful journey… it has been truly a transformative journey. All the cliches happened to me and some more. I made some best friends, organised the largest conference at [this school] (Diversity Conference), chaired a few clubs not because I have to (like during undergrad) but because I was really passionate about leading those clubs… and finally, traveled to 6 continents while I was at [this school] (went to Antarctica earlier this year.. it was surreal).
Immersing oneself at an MBA school (especially at schools such as [this school]), is once in a lifetime opportunity that not many people can get. And you work towards helping aspiring kids like me get into that journey. Keep up the great work.. and thank you for helping me 3 years back!
I thought I ll leave you with a picture of my parents and me at graduation. My parents never went to school or college, so it was a special moment for them to come from a village in India and see their son get an Ivy League degree.
The graduation picture was a wonderful touch! Thank you, proud graduate, for sharing that!
It’s also pretty effing awesome to get a report of a BSer who took advantage of the opportunities, who dove in and made big contributions to their school, and who actually is doing the things that they said they would do when they wrote those essays.
We took the liberty of pulling out this graduate’s admissions essays that we reviewed for them, and were floored with what we read:
[Bschool’s] learning team model will provide me an incredible opportunity to share my ideas and perspectives with a diverse group of successful peers from different industries, functions and geographies. Having lived in India, Singapore, Germany and United Kingdom and having travelled to more than 35 countries, I will bring to [Bschool] a truly global perspective. I will play a significant role in ensuring my team member’s distinctive abilities come to the forefront, to create a tremendous learning experience for the group. At [Bschool], I will leverage my trekking experience in Swedish Lapland (200 km north of Arctic circle) to facilitate the Antarctica trip in 2015.
That’s just one example where they had told the adcom what they intended to do at bschool – and clearly, they meant it! Pretty cool stuff.
To this and all other former BSers who may wander back around these parts: Your successes are so exciting to hear about! Thank you for sharing the news and keeping EssaySnark inspired through your achievements in the world.
You don’t need to be on any government watch list or from any specific foreign country to be deported from the U.S. for breaking the law. Here’s a case of a Chinese national who was studying at Arizona state. He got busted for taking upskirt photos and filming women in the bathroom and now he’s going to be deported. We’re going to go out on a limb and assume that none of you are going to be doing anything like that when you’re here in the U.S. However, one paragraph towards the end of that article is chilling:
For student visa holders in the United States, even minor criminal charges can be grounds for deportation. If a student is convicted of a “crime of moral turpitude,” he or she could be deported and not allowed to reenter the United States without a waiver and permission to reapply from the attorney general during the life span of the deportation order, Matthew Kolken, an immigration attorney based in Buffalo, said. Those deported as aggravated felons are also likely permanently inadmissible without a waiver, he added.
In today’s political climate, you’re going to want to be super careful about even seemingly minor or victimless crimes:
- Don’t drive a car without a valid driver’s license
- Don’t bounce a check
- Don’t buy, sell or smoke pot, even if any of that has been legalized in your state
- Don’t have prescription drugs not prescribed to you in your possession
Parking tickets presumably are not deportable offenses. Minor traffic violations like breaking the speed limit? We’d be more nervous about stuff like that.
Here’s one that may be surprising: Don’t accept employment in the U.S. of any kind if not allowed by the terms of the visa that’s been issued to you.
Read the regulations that apply to your visa . Don’t let that visa lapse. Make sure your passport is valid and unexpired before you leave home, and renew it now if it’s going to go out of date soon.
And obviously, it goes without saying, don’t be some total creepy lewd lascivous gross peeping Tom mothereffer who spies on other people or harasses them or is in other ways antisocial and disgusting.
You might also be interested in:
- International students and significant others (Part 2) – includes breakdown of U.S. visa options
- Should you come to the U.S. for school?
- Where do we stand with the H1b visa debate? (Explains the process of applying for a work visa in the U.S.)
About a year ago, we talked about how certain schools are putting even more emphasis on GMAT score than ever before. That was based on our experience last season (Class of 2018 admissions). We saw how that affected the Class of 2018 profiles – Wharton’s average GMAT score is now up to 724, but perhaps…
If you’re just starting the process of applying to bschool for the first time, this post is not for you. Today we’re mostly talking to those who are either still on the waitlist, or who will be reapplicants, and who will be informing the adcom about an updated GMAT score either in a waitlist update…
Most business schools do not give feedback to applicants on why they rejected their app. However, some cool schools do – and if you’re going to reapply there, we have some (seemingly basic but apparently not) advice for what to do with it.
Today we’ll also mention what we always thought was obvious and standard, but again, we keep getting surprised.
If an adcom person at some school takes the time to meet with you in person or on the phone, you really might want to, like, send them a thank-you note.
This is more in the category of “how to live life in the world as a decent person” than anything to do with bschool admissions. And yet, doing something as simple as a thank-you to someone who did something for you can be a rare event in our modern world.
Before we start going off on THAT, we’ll just remind you that manners matter (another tip: if you sign up for a school event, you should go to that school event or have the courtesy of canceling), and no, you won’t be accepted or rejected on the basis of a thank-you note – but you might be remembered.
And that can be a very nice thing.