Like our recent posts on tone in essays, today’s may be another one of those you want to mark with that little Favorites button at the bottom, so you can find it again in a week or so, when you’re panicking and beating your head against the desk and trying to figure out how to…
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.”
– Chinese proverb
In spite of all our implicit and explicit HBS bashing lately, we should probably do a specific post on “What to do if you’re completely lost on the HBS essay” — since we know lots of you BSers are aiming to try for Harvard anywayz! 🙂
It’s not like some silly ol’ ‘Snark is gonna deter you wide-eyed whippersnappers from the school o’ your dreams!!!
How do you deal with that essay that they’ve got?
We heard from a BSer recently that he stumbled upon the ‘Snark through a google search that was phrased somehow like that, so let’s see if we can offer some starting points and ways to break into the analysis process for dealing with the Harvard MBA question this year.
Just in case you’re in the 0.0001% of BSer who’s never peeked at it before, the Harvard Business School MBA essay asks:
Shameless plug: We do a much better job of laying out strategies and considerations in our Harvard essay guide!!!
But in an effort to be helpful, beyond what we’ve already covered on our dedicated Harvard MBA application info page, we’ll offer this snapshot of snarky advice to help you get a handle on your approach:
1. Start by doing another school’s essays.
Please don’t cut your teeth on your MBA application process with Harvard Business School. It’s one of the hardest essays of all. You will not be making your job easy if you do it that way. Get through at least the third full draft of some other school first. Then turn your attention to Harvard.
2. Start Harvard’s essay by filling out the actual HBS application.
You don’t know what else you need to convey to the adcom if you don’t know what else you’ve conveyed. Go through that puppy and study it. Fill out what you can, and make a list of the items you know you need to spend more time on. Those are typically in the Employment, Intended Post-MBA, Extracurriculars and Awards sections.
3. Start making lists.
You will likely cycle through dozens of ideas on what to write about before you come up with a solid plan — and that’s OK! That’s to be expected!! Start a running list, and keep adding to it. You’ll think of a new idea at random as you go through your day. Don’t judge or critique the ideas; just write them down. Once you have assembled a selection of possibilities, then you can start to examine them.
As you can see, the main message is GET STARTED!! Hopefully that helps you to do so!! The HBS essay is about thinking through who you are, and what makes you unique, and shows you are accomplished, and lets you demonstrate that you will bring a unique perspective to the case method experience of your fellow students at Harvard Business School.
Simple? Sure. Easy? Not at all!!!
Pick up the SnarkStrategies MBA guide for HBS!
We’re also still accepting new clients for Round 2 – get that all-important Harvard essay decimated to make sure you are impressing the Admissions Board and not coming across the same way that dozens and dozens of other applicants will do!
The advice we gave to many BSers as Round 1 was breathing down their necks was: If you know you can do better on your applications, then don’t rush them. Don’t submit crap apps in Round 1 just to get them submitted. That advice came with a big caveat, though. It was predicated on the…
When ANYBODY gets feedback about ANYTHING that they care about, it’s personal. It’s just how the human brain is wired. Or maybe more precisely, the reptilian part of your human brain. Your amygdala, to be exact. That’s the part of the brain that deals with emotions, and that’s what’s triggered when we hear feedback, and what makes us get defensive.
Want to see how this works in other people?
Go read this . It’s a review of a high-end restaurant that recently opened in Washington, DC. You don’t have to read it in detail; you can skim it (unless you’re a foodie, of course, and then you might be more interested in the details of what the reviewer is saying).
Now, go here and read the first post. That second link is to an online chat where the food critic takes questions from anyone about stuff. We’ll go ahead and paste in what someone wrote about the restaurant review:
“One of my good friends is a line cook at Mirabelle. To cut a long story short he was pretty devastated last week when the review was published. From what I gather, the kitchen staff worship Frank and think he’s a genius. So they were understandably upset when the restaurant received less than 3 stars. I’m in a difficult situation. On the one hand he’s a good friend and I want to be supportive and side with him. On the other hand, I thought what you wrote was balanced, gave credit when credit was due, and was for the most part objective when it came to what you didn’t like. When I mention this to him he has had… lets just say animated responses. However, beneath the profanity he does make some counters: [details about the chef’s defenses removed for brevity]”
The food critic, Tom Seitsma, who we find to be very balanced in his reviews of these restaurants, and a genuine nice guy in how he interacts with the public on his chats, responded in part with this:
“[details about why the review was still accurate removed for brevity] Your chef pal probably does [not] want my advice, but the best thing to do in situations like this is to re-read the review — there’s lots that’s positive therein — and just keep striving to do the best work possible.”
That advice is spot-on and wonderful.
We invite you to read his review and see for yourself how it comes across. Do you see it as an attack? That’s how (apparently) the line chef did. Or do you see it as one person’s opinion — an obviously educated one, from someone who has a long history in that market and lots of experience with doing that type of review?
If you get feedback from the ‘Snark, we hope you’ll be able to see that in a similar light.
We may have to adopt the words of the food critic as the takeaway message we offer to all BSers:
When you get feedback saying your essays are not strong enough, then the best thing to do in situations like this is to re-read the review — there’s lots that’s positive therein — and just keep striving to do the best work possible.
We did a variation of this post in September – Should you submit in Round 1? – and now here we are, the end of the first week of December, and Round 2 is just around the corner — man, how did that happen?? It’s crazy how quickly the calendar page turns when there are…
About a month ago, this essay was submitted for consideration for a freebie blahg review by an Indian BSer who’s applying to Tuck (or possibly he already submitted in their November round? Not sure; if so, we got it much too late to turn it around that quickly 🙁 ). This BSer is in investment…