Short answer: No!
You should be exactly who you are in your essays. Being really you is your superpower!
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Be who you are, people. Let your real self shine in this process. That’s what the schools want to see.
Short answer: No!
You should be exactly who you are in your essays. Being really you is your superpower!
Be who you are, people. Let your real self shine in this process. That’s what the schools want to see.
Today we’re offering small compliments to a small thing that UC Berkeley did a few months back (we’ve been trying to find a slow day to post this and that’s apparently never going to happen in 2020* so here it is at random).
This is what we mean:
What Berkeley did was:
1. Acknowledge reality. Applicants are totally bombarded with often-repetitive and many-times-fairly-useless emails from the schools. Haas recognized this, from the recipient’s perspective. How refreshing.
2. Follow their own mission. One of the so-called Defining Principles at Berkeley Haas is “question the status quo.” How novel of them to do so within their own industry!!!
3. Ask permission. They didn’t assume that someone receiving their existing emails would be interested in what they are doing next. They gave the recipient a choice. True opt in. Thank you Haas!
4. Offered benefits. They were transparent in what they were trying to do and how they would do it, and they tried to articulate to the audience that it would be useful to them. This is Marketing 101, and it’s not implemented terribly well by many schools.
The other interesting thing here is that Haas is understanding the balance of power is shifting. Advertisers finally woke up to the fact that their ad dollars spent in traditional campaigns in magazines were not necessarily the most valuable of investments, and realized that all these influencers on Instagram and YouTube were much more powerful voices in marketing to today’s audience. In the past two admissions seasons when the numbers of applications dipped, top business schools started rolling out new policies and programs, such as formalized tracks for college students to apply with a built-in deferment, or schools like Columbia dropped the requirement for the TOEFL. Berkeley’s campaign messaging and their new orientation to their audience of MBA hopefuls may (or may not) have come out of the new thinking that coronavirus challenges and pressures have forced on the business world. Either way, it’s giving its marketplace of possible-applicants-to-their-program a choice, and showing them that Haas realizes that they need to earn your application.
So that’s kinda cool.
*Today we coulda posted about how MIT and Harvard are suing the US Government to allow international students to stay in the U.S. even if they’re doing online-only educational programs which other schools like Northwestern have now joined, and whose outcome will apply to all schools; or about how the Ivy League canceled fall football , possibly to be held in the spring (but we’re not holding our breath); or about how Stanford will be dropping 11 of its varsity sports programs next year, programs that have been major feeders into the U.S. Olympics programs. All of that happened in the past 24 hours. Does sports impact your MBA? No, but it impacts colleges and universities tremendously on the financial side.
Giving a small shout-out to Berkeley Haas for respecting its audience of prospective students seems like a worthwhile use of our blahg space today. Are we trying to suggest that you should want to go to Berkeley because of this? No. But positive things are worth highlighting, and observing a school’s outward actions can give an outsider a sense of the culture.
Let’s talk about the idea of reading sample essays or going through your friends’ application from last year. Is it a good idea? Well, we’re not convinced. There’s even evidence it can hurt you.
Them reading yours might, too. Friends don’t let friends…
We understand the urge to want to read an essay that someone else used. It can be suuuuuper tempting to want to see what other people have written in your attempt to figure out this essay writing business. After all, when you’re staring at the blank wall that is your empty Word document, the brain can get a little panicky. It can seem tempting to want to find a model or a sample of some sort, to understand how others conquered this Herculean task and found success.
We just have to warn you though: That’s unlikely to lead you to admissions nirvana.
Instead, it’s likely to actively discourage you.
See, here’s the deal: As we’ve blahgged about before, research shows that reading a high-quality end-product can make the novice writer feel discouraged.
A big factor in this is that the path to a strong essay is usually a very circuitous one. It often feels like one step forward, two steps back. The first few steps especially can be rocky indeed.
If you look at a totally finished, highly polished, sweated-over end product, and you look back at your own ideas for a first draft, it can be really unnerving. You may have in your head this idea of how you might present yourself to the adcom. But unless you write essays for a living (and even if you do: we see horrid essays come out of those pay-to-play essay farms, please don’t be tempted by the unethical services on offer out there) — even if you did write essays for a living, it’s unlikely you know how to write a good essay for admission to a top MBA program. If you’ve never gotten into bschool before, then you’re by definition an early learner of this process. And if you’ve never written a personal essay that was introspective and insightful, and appropriately detailed, and clear, with proper structure, yada yada yada… But then you read someone else’s “essay that won” as we often hear them touted…. Then yeah, you’re likely going to misunderstand the process, and not recognize the amount of personal effort and sweat and tears (hopefully not blood though we have heard of smacking heads on desks at times) and all of this can undermine your own state of mental and emotional wellbeing and turn you into an even greater procrastination monster than you already are.
So yeah. No. We don’t recommend it.
And, we totally get why you’d feel like you need it. Having a model or a template or something sounds really enticing, like, “If only I saw what I’m supposed to do, then I’d have a better sense of how to do it.” It’s unlikely to be the case, though.
As an alternate approach, we recommend starting with outlines.
(“Yuck,” you say. Yes, we know you don’t like outlines.)
Do a bunch of research on your school, do some doodling, do some brainstorming. Write down lists of possibilities.
Start with those. Let your mind explore the topic. Take notes.
Then, sit yourself down and start to structure out your ideas.
Our Essay Ideas App Accelerator has guidance for ways to do exactly that.
It’s going to take some digging in and getting your hands dirty to figure out what to say and how to say it.
And that’s OK.
Seeing other people’s final product isn’t really going to help you in your process of making this essay your own.
Also it’s very common that people get in despite their essays. How do you know if the essay you’re reading is any good?
This project simply takes TIME. There may be some pounding of the head on the table involved. It’s a creative process and ask any artist, and they’ll tell you, there’s some true pain involved in coming up with something that you’re proud of.
Want some input along the way? That’s what we’re here for! Let us know if we can help you find your way out of the morass of essay-writing h3ll. We will get our hands dirty right along with you!!
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First: EssaySnark must’ve spent too much time in the hot July sun over the holiday weekend, because yesterday’s post was half-baked and unfinished when it first went up. If you’re following the blahg and getting these posts by email, please be sure to click back over to the site to read it in its (now corrected) entirety!
And now: Coronavirus and education and immigration.
You’d think this country could get at least one out of the three right, and implement policies that help rather than hurt people. But no.
On Monday, Harvard announced that the entirety of its undergraduate Arts and Sciences programs will be conducted only online for the entirety of the 2020-2021 academic year .
What a mess. How stressful can they make it. It’s as if they sat around in March, April, and May, and said, “Hey, what if we don’t even really try to protect this country? Nah, seems like way too much trouble.”
Leaders? This country lacks them right now.
It’s all about politics and pretending.
Folks, stay safe, be smart, and make sure you’re being sensible, too. Don’t outsource your critical thinking or expect the leaders to have your best interests in mind.
This past season (Class of 2022 admissions) was the first time in recorded history that it was an advantage to apply very late in the season — at least in some cases. We worked with a handful of very well-put-together candidates who did not move forward in Round 1 last Fall despite some excellent applications. Yet, when the schools (some of them) decided to allow previously-rejected candidates to petition for a reconsideration, those Round 1 candidates were successful. This is unheard of. What it says is that certain sectors remained highly competitive even in a so-called “down” season, as the start of 2019 admissions was… And that 2020 is a bizarr-o year that defies all expectation.
That unusual experience aside, we still stick by the advice to apply in Round 1, for these significant reasons:
This post is a tiny bit silly, since any of you Brave Supplicants reading it now are already on board with trying for Round 1. We’re just hoping to give a bit more “oomph” to your levels of motivation and determination, since it’s easy to have excitement at the outset of the project — and for that excitement to flag under the weight of the task. Starting now is going to be so useful for you — so good job on making that decision! It’s a smart one!
That calendar is on your side right now but the days are marching towards September quite fast.
As we’ve been saying over and over these days: Now is the time to get started!!
Hit us up if we can help you to do that. We’re around and available to support you in your march towards submissions success!
Yeah yeah yeah it’s still summer. You have plenty of time before Round 1 hits.
Or do you?
Generally speaking, once the Fourth of July holiday has happened in the States, that’s also when the BSers who end up being the most successful have geared up and gotten busy.
We actually recommended that people get busy several times over the past few months, but do BSers listen to us?
If you did, kudos to you! There’s at least one person taking this stuff seriously! 😉
For everyone else out there: NOW IS THE TIME!
Deadlines still feel like they’re way off on the horizon, and deadlines have this alluring quality about them where they just LOVE to be ignored for as long as humanly possible. It’s how deadlines work for most people, in every aspect of life.
But guess what? Writing those essays is gonna take you way longer than you expect.
If you’re still facing down the prospect of that darned GMAT test, then obviously yes, you should be focusing there. However you also need to be spending some serious time with a calendar and looking at how you intend to fit all of this in.
Each one of your many essays will require AT LEAST three revisions before they’re going to be anywhere near submissible. (Submissable? Submittable? OK yes, submittable.)
Or wait – that’s not actually true. There is nothing in any of the schools’ online applications that will prevent you from actually submitting the essay. So that word is not quite right.
But whether the essay you submit will have a rat’s ass chance in h3ll of getting a happy reaction from your adcom reader is a totally other question.
Rushed writing tends to end up in rejections.
A smart process will allow for multiple cycles of revision.
That revision takes time – because that process requires work. And, uh, thinking. Which some of you seem to be a little unaccustomed to. 😉
So get busy, Brave Supplicant! Dive in now, when you still have the luxury of TIME and SPACE and no fire-breathing monsters of DEADLINES sitting on your shoulder!
PS: The Complete Essay Package is a great way to get full support from the ‘Snark through the process!
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For as long as we’ve been the Snarkiest Snarker of MBA Essays, we’ve had a program providing support to military candidates trying for business school. We see honor in choosing to serve the country, and we respect that choice, and have wanted to offer resources to a segment of the applicant population that was considered non-traditional. Way back when, those trying for an MBA from a career in the services had few mentors to guide them through the mystifying process of putting together these complicated applications. We wanted to help, and it fit in with our own ethos of service and giving back.
Starting today, we are switching direction.
We still have a microsite for military and vets who want to get into bschool and we’ve written quite a few posts dedicated to military MBA candidates, so there continues to be value available. We will still honor the terms on offer, of kicking down some freebies to such candidates who contact us. We will also still offer a sweet deal on the Complete Essay Package to those folks (if you are in this category, follow the instructions for our simple verification process and we’ll set you up).
However on Wednesday, we were struck by these near back-to-back tweets:
Thrilled to have the @GMA platform to discuss topics so important to me and so pivotal to our country right now: workplace diversity, bridging the gender and racial gaps, and setting the example for youth. @RobinRoberts #GoodMorningAmericapic.twitter.com/x5WMZDVUhF
— Dean Erika James (@erikahjames) July 1, 2020
Six new faculty members in accounting, economics, finance, marketing, and organizational behavior have joined Yale SOM. Welcome, Alexander Burnap, Christopher Clayton, Oriane A.M. Georgeac, Cameron S. LaPoint, Edward Watts, and Seth D. Zimmerman! https://t.co/BNYdkQWK3k
— Yale SOM (@YaleSOM) July 1, 2020
The SOM tweet oddly has no pictures; typically, when announcing faculty, we get a picture. When we follow the link to the SOM’s announcement, we get this:
EssaySnark has been calling out such issues for years — including at Yale.
It was pretty big news when Wharton announced Dr. James coming aboard. (No really. Click that link. Now click this one and scroll down to the pictures.)
Many of you have been following along with our posts on the need for change and microaggressions and other such topics in the past few months, since George Floyd’s death and the abhorrent Amy Cooper story and all the other losses and tragedies that have (finally) catalyzed America out of its acceptance of inequality, to maybe start doing something to bring change.
And yet… Yale brings us six new white faculty.
EssaySnark alone is not going to change the world. But EssaySnark and you and you and you and you and you… we can.
The small gesture that EssaySnark is making, starting today, is this:
It’s not about giving handouts or charity. It’s about recognizing that the deck has been stacked systemically against BIPOC for literally centuries.
When white people wring their hands saying, “We’d like to hire more people of color, but we can’t find them” or “There aren’t enough qualified minorities in the pipeline” or “We don’t see color, we just hire the best person for the job” then EssaySnark says bullshit.
Just like Dean James said in her GMA interview: The talent is there. People haven’t been looking hard enough.
The way we change the world is by actually changing it.
It’s not like EssaySnark donating our time to help underrepresented minorities with assessing chances for getting into top bschools is going to right all the wrongs. However, EssaySnark lives in a world of privilege, as members of the majority culture, and we’re ready to make an effort to acknowledge this imbalance in a personally tangible (if small) way.
Military candidates? We still love you. But here’s the deal: There’s an infrastructure built out to support you folks now. You’re not quite on your own in this process the way you once were. There’s Service to School and the incredibly strong Veterans Clubs and on-base GMAT testing. The ecosystem of support is there now, more than it was. You may still not personally know anybody who’s done the MBA thing, which, yes, can make things harder — but we’re not turning our backs on you folks. We’re just reallocating the limited resources we have available to a different population of candidate.
Our small gesture isn’t going to be some radical transformation. But we are putting the money where the mouth is.
Should you take advantage of our generosity? Should you go for this offer of a free consulting service if you personally could afford to pay?
Honestly, we would be fine if you did.
If you felt somehow conflicted over it, then you could donate to your favorite civil rights charity. But that’s not necessary.
Society needs to start changing the system that keeps Black people out of the management teams, out of the board rooms, out of the corner office. Society needs to change on all levels, actually.
If you’re a BIPOC who’d like to receive this free service, please email “gethelpnow” at essaysnark dot com and we’ll get you set up. We’re unsure what type of response this offer will generate; if somehow we’re flooded with requests, then this post will be updated with availability (there’s only so much snarking that can go around, especially as we start getting busier with Round 1 on the horizon).
The ‘Snarks are taking other actions privately to participate in the needed social change that’s happening around us. We hope you are, too, in whatever way you feel inspired to act.
Heck, if school is gonna be done remote: Why not keep your job, live where you’re at, and go to school at the same time?
Right now is a time for all of us to re-imagine what the world should be. Everything is in turmoil and borderline chaos, but that also means it’s fluid and there’s chances to change. There’s a lot to take advantage of, no matter how you’re looking at things, and plenty of people are seeing how status quo needs to go. Is it time to reinvent your life? Good. Go do that. Commit to the changes you’re making 100%. You’ve been successful before. See if you can outdo all previous successes in what you immerse yourself in next. Go into it prepared, with your wits about you, and set yourself up to achieve. Just be smart about it and not reckless. We can’t wait to see the new world we all create!
Last week we tried to help international applicants figure out where to focus: American MBA programs? Business schools in other English-speaking countries? English-language programs in European countries like Spain?
Whether you’re an American, or are in the US already on a green card or visa, or if you’re an international candidate, it all comes down to figuring out where to spend your limited time and resources, to maximize your chances of an admit to a school that you love.
Because that’s what it boils down to, right?
Yes you want an MBA.
But you don’t want just any MBA.
You want to go to a good school. You know the advantages that a good school will offer — not just in terms of better job opportunities coming out, but also a better education, and a higher-caliber cohort of students you go through the program with, yada yada yada.
There are always a lot of moving parts to assessing a profile and understanding the best schools to target — and that’s never been more true than now. We’ll do our best to lay out some practical advice for you personally in the Comprehensive Profile Review if you’re feeling you could use an unbiased set of eyes on your individual scenario. Let us know if we can help you get started!!
A lot of school administrators have made strong statements in the past six weeks that they will be open for on-campus learning — leaving themselves some wriggle-room, in case their state or local governments prohibit it, or unless circumstances change and their public health advisors recommend that they don’t. Many schools promised to make final decisions about Fall 2020 at the end of June.
Here we are, with much of the U.S. just about losing its sh!t with coronavirus, and what, exactly, are these schools going to do?!?
One insider at a huge state university program told us that their school’s president was waiting until July 1st to make any final announcement about being on-campus or fully online, because that’s when their state’s fiscal year rolls over. We’re not exactly sure why that matters so much, but we also don’t understand the behind-the-scenes accounting that goes on with allocations and revenue shortfalls on a big university budget. This particular school relies on undergrads paying rent to live in its dorms as a large chunk of its revenues, and that’s the case at many other schools too, which of course is what’s behind the big push to pretend that they’ll be doing teaching in-person as normal this year. The presumption has been that all these undergrads really want the on-campus experience and they won’t continue their education if they can’t do it in real time at school.
Some schools seem not to recognize that a lot of students don’t want to be on campus now. They’d rather stay home, given what’s happening. And, a lot of undergrads don’t want to take a gap year right now. A gap year? In a pandemic? What exactly will they be doing instead? It’s not like they’re going to be off traveling the world, and there’s no jobs to be had now either. Taking a year off of college will derail all their future plans. The schools are afraid that they’ll lose students to other opportunities, but the college-bound kids that we’ve talked to are set on sticking with their plans for college because they’re in a hurry to get on with their lives. They don’t want to sit out a year. A lot of college administrators seem to have misunderstood their customer. Sure, online school isn’t the same, but it’s better than the other very bad options for these kids.
A lot of professors don’t want to come back to campus, either, even though they also complain mightily about the challenges of teaching in an online format. A lot of professors are in higher-risk groups. Teaching in a socially-distanced classroom, with everyone in a mask, is not exactly going to be a standard classroom experience conducive to learning.
Nobody is happy with anything.
Yet the schools are very focused on still pretending that it’ll all be happening in real time on their campuses in two months, and it’ll go great, and everyone will be safe, and loving it.
That takes quite a lot of faith and optimism to believe all of this will occur.
But yes, school will be happening, whether it’s happening on Zoom or in half-populated spread-out lecture halls with a smattering of students at once. And yes, schools still don’t have finalized class rosters, because of all the uncertainty and change.
What we can offer is that if you’re still hanging out in waitlist limbo to get into a top MBA program, that the bulk of the movement that will happen, if any, will likely be in the next two or three weeks. Most schools will be able to admit at least some additional students from the waitlist quite soon. And, we can also say that many schools got absolutely slammed with apps in the March-April timeframe, and there are lots and lots of waitlisters in your shoes along with you. It’s so tough to say who might get tapped and who should not hold out hope. In light of all the social change we’ve been witnessing, it’s safe to say that any candidate who brings one or more elements of demographic diversity will be given a close look, but even still, there are so many viable candidates now that the schools still have a broad field to choose from.
Many, if not most, top schools have vowed to offer a remote option to all MBA students, at least for Fall if not also for next Spring too. We still believe, as we had originally forecast in early April, that most schools will not be having on-campus instruction for Fall, regardless of how many schools have been pretending that that’s what they would do.
The next few weeks are likely to be very illuminating.
All of you, we hope you’re staying safe, and not getting lax with the mask-wearing and social-distancing. Having a meal in a restaurant is simply not worth it, ya know?
America is not doing well with this challenge, but individually, we can each one of us make a difference in actions taken to prevent the spread and stay healthy.
The next few weeks shall be interesting. Let’s see where the world goes from here, and what announcements come out as the schools put final decisions in place for their incoming classes.
Good luck to those of you who are still waiting word!! This cannot be easy.
To those who’re already gearing up to start class this Fall: Congrats! And enjoy your final weeks of pre-MBA freedom — safely at a social distance of course!
UPDATE: For an actual professor’s view, who happens to be an economist at University of Michigan: In the New York Times today, College Is Worth It, but Campus Isn’t by Dr. Susan Dynarski