Writing essays is hard. There are many common mistakes that pretty much everyone makes — which we cover all the time here on the blahg, but we know that some of our posts are fairly far back in the snarchive at this point and unless you’re a total obsessive, you probably won’t read the half…
This week is IT for many schools and we know lots of BSers are in full-on panic mode right now.
You wrote some essays.
We told you, sorry Charlie, they’re not strong enough yet.
Should you submit anyway?
The quandary is because Round 1 **is** legitimately important, particularly for certain overcrowded candidate pools at the most competitive schools.
As we’ve said before, Round 1 does not compensate for crap.
Whether you should proceed with the best-ya-got-right-now really depends on KNOWING YOURSELF.
We captured this in a couple o’ tweets on Sunday night:
Lots of BSers are making the difficult decision: "Submit with this in Round 1? Or work harder on the essays – and go for Round 2?" 1/2
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) September 18, 2017
The way to decide is BE HONEST W/YOURSELF. Will you REALLY put in the needed work if you delay? If not, submit Rd 1. Don't fool yourself 2/2
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) September 18, 2017
If you know that the only reason you got the essays in the feeble shape that they’re in now is because the deadline was breathing down your neck and you finally started writing them 27 hours ago…. then you also know that delaying to Round 2 will not help you. Because you’ll just end up in this same boat at 11:32pm on December 30th with the clock ticking towards the deadlines 5 days later.
Those are not circumstances under which most people do their best work (as you have this week discovered).
If we’re talking about a HUGELY DIFFICULT school to break into like Stanford or Wharton, then let’s face it: If you currently do not have your essay game in gear, and you’re still struggling with Draft #1.6 (you never made it all the way to a second real draft, you’re just tinkering and twiddling your way to the void) then go ahead and submit so that you can say you “tried.” You’re not taking this seriously, or you would have taken it seriously and gotten started a month ago when everyone else who’s serious got started. Or back in June, when you first wandered into Snarkville all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and hot to trot for Round 1.
Round 1 Round 1 Round 1.
It’s this evil temptress who looks SOOOO alluring when you first meet her at a distance.
And then when she approaches, you recoil in fear.
Now she’s up close and scary, and you don’t know whether to rush into her arms or to run away in terror.
Here’s how to decide.
1. You know you’re a procrastinator. You know you do this on important things in your life. You can’t stand that you do it, but you can’t seem to change it either.
If you don’t, you’re just setting yourself up for this same level of agony all over again in December, and it’s unlikely your essays will end up any better. Make it happen in the next h3llish 3 days and SUBMIT.
2. You cannot STAND this essay writing stuff. Or, maybe you’re OK with first drafts, but revision? UGH DON’T MAKE ME DO IT.
Same reason as #1. If you hate all essays, hate them to death, then that is not going to change with a few months’ time passing. Take stock of where you’re at, clean up the typos and make sure that there’s no lame writing errors in there, and submit.
3. You had all the best intentions but… This summer just slipped by, because of unexpected work things, and personal things, and something happened to your dog, and then your best friend got laid off, and LIFE just got the better of you. You actually don’t mind writing, your problem is that your drafts are always too long, and you can’t really decide which topic to use, because you have all these ideas, and you had most of your essays done a month ago and then all this stuff hit the fan and you kept getting yanked around by things, but you KNOW you can do better…
DO NOT SUBMIT.
If #1 and #2 are not true for you, then DO NOT SUBMIT. Take this freak-out around Round 1 as your opportunity. Call it your Moment of Awakening. START NOW and don’t let up. Don’t let yourself make excuses. This is your lesson-learned. Learn it, become a new person, do it. No resolutions, but actually do it.
The other strategy we often recommend is, if you really do want Round 1 and you’re feeling craptastic about it right now, then starting from this moment, ENGAGE EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR BEING TOWARDS THE GOAL OF SUBMITTING IN ROUND 1 not because you will 100% definitely be pressing the Submit button at the time of that deadline in the next 24 or 48 hours. But, you will WORK YOUR LITTLE PATOOTY OFF in a full court press in the ATTEMPT to get your sh!t together. Work work work those essays with everything you’ve got. Pull an all-nighter tonight if you have to.
Then, when you get on the other side of that Herculean effort, you will step back, and examine the work you have produced: IS THIS THE BEST YOU THINK YOU CAN DO?
If not, DO NOT SUBMIT.
But if it is…. And who knows, we’ve seen some BSers pull off some minor miracles in a very compressed period of time. If you can do that, then go for it. Click that little button on Tuesday or Wednesday or whenever your school’s deadline is hitting.
Make the decision NOW that you’re going to try for it.
And then GO. Put all of your resources on it.
It’s not what we would advise.
But some people (fool themselves into thinking that they) work best under pressure.
To be clear, it’s highly unlikely, at least not based on our years of data and experience collected in such matters, that a BSer is going to produce admit-quality essays for Stanford if they just rolled off the apple cart this weekend and started to work on them.
But you never know what adrenaline and the Reality Check of a deadline can do.
Long ago, in a previous version of EssaySnark, when we would hit this point on the calendar every season, we’d spend all this effort trying to convince certain unready BSers to hold back; to stop with the frantic typing motions and chill out, and let that deadline pass, and put a plan together for Round 2.
Sometimes that was indeed the right thing to do, but not always.
We finally realized that there are a bunch of BSers who we were actually hurting with that advice, since it only served to prolong the agony. Not only would they not end up in Round 2 with essays that were any better than the ones we told them weren’t good enough in Round 1, but the worst part was that they had an even longer period of suffering to experience, and that entire cycle of self-recrimination and guilt and self-abuse when the same thing hit again in December.
So that’s where we’re coming from today. We’re not saying “JUST SUBMIT YOU FOOL, YOU BLEW IT AND YOU WILL BLOW IT AGAIN SO JUST SUBMIT AND BE DONE WITH IT.”
We’re saying, “Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Sure, your NOW-SELF is wishing that your PAST-SELF had made different decisions, and that you weren’t sitting here with the whites of your eyes showing and your heart racing not knowing what to do. But guess what? The decisions that your PAST-SELF made seemed like the right ones at the time. Your NOW-SELF may be feeling regret and anxiety, because this MBA application thing is important to you and you don’t want to eff it up. But what we can offer is that we know you will end up in exactly the right place. Even if you don’t feel like you’re ready today, when you wanted to be ready and had planned to be ready, but it hasn’t worked out that you’re ready, guess what? YOU ARE MUCH CLOSER THAN YOU WERE LAST WEEK AT THIS TIME. You are not a total screw-up. You’re not. You’re trying to get ahead, and maybe you just needed a little wake-up call or a reminder, to remember how important this is to you.”
There are two full weeks of deadlines coming up, and then a bunch more deadlines after that. Only a very few schools have Round 1s in the past (HBS, Yale, LBS) and ALL of the schools have Round 2s in the future. You have time to make this happen this season.
And on that note
OH HEY LOOK IT’S THE COUNTDOWN!!
The Round 2 MBA Countdown will start in a few weeks; sign-ups are now open if you want to help your procrastinating lil self to maximize the time available!!!
Wanna find out if the ‘Snark thinks you’re ready?
Reality Check Sanity Check will tell you if this app has a chance!
EssaySnark is (has been) live-tweeting our essay reviews – all weekend long!
We recently received this most amazing note from a long-ago BSer, and we asked for permission to post it, because it’s just that good! Since many of you are in Essay H3ll right now, we figured we’d share this so you can see what’s on the other side this massive effort and loss of hair you’re experiencing.
Hope all is well.
I wanted to give you an update on my progress so far. I spent the summer interning with [bigname] investment bank in New York, and was fortunate to receive a return offer.
My experiences at [topschool] have been very positive, life-changing even. During the Spring Quarter, I took the [specific leadership course] which had a pronounced effect in the way I organised my life.
True to [topschool]’s culture, I was taught that behaving ethically meant acting with the goal of producing pro social outcomes. I was also shown research on how behaving ethically would have a positive effect on my reputation, happiness, and even my productivity.
The internship was a great time to put the course’s lessons into practice. Over the summer, I stayed later to help colleagues, gave to the homeless, helped the assistants out with their IT troubles, and performed other assorted random acts of kindness. I never expected that I would say this, but business school has shown me how to be a happier person.
This holistic growth would not have been possible without your help, EssaySnark, and I thought it would be nice to show you how your help has, in turn, helped others.
Obviously this person is walking the walk! So cool to get this from them, and so cool to think that all this harping on you folks with the essays we’re decimating may lead to many of you having similar transformations in your future!
And now… back to work! 😀
(To continue on with Resume Week!!) When they open up a new app to review, many admissions directors start with the resume. It’s really really (really really!) important. The resume holds so many opportunities for optimization and ways you can share insights! Don’t overlook these important aspects to your app. The app dataset also offers…
“After all these years, I have come to realise that I must go through a period of agony and torture before I have a breakthrough.”
We originally included this in yesterday’s post on the resume essay content as part of our Resume Week series — but Sloan is different! This deserves to be discussed separately — and despite the title of this post, this is NOT specific only to Sloan! Tips for your other apps also found here. Q:…