So often, we get a set of drafts from some Brave Supplicant or other, and we retch groan take pause. And we take a deep breath and we dig in and we rip ’em to shreds. Like, the essays suck, and we have to find creative and not-totally-offensive ways to say so. (If you’re reading this now, and you just got back your ripped-to-shreds essays from EssaySnark — no, we’re not writing this post about you. Promise. This post was written months ago and we’re just now getting around to posting it.)
Where were we?
And we’re often surprised by this, because typically we’ve been working with this person to some degree or another and we had faith in them, else we wouldn’t have taken on the task of reading their work.
So then Brave Supplicant goes away for awhile, and eventually comes back, and typically has some lament of a question about “I totally understand what you’re saying about these essays, EssaySnark, you’re right, they totally suck, blah blah blah” and they proceed to write something AMAZING in their email to us.
They say: I wanted to write about such-and-such but I didn’t because…
Or they say: I wrote my Harvard goals that way because Harvard wants ambitious goals, don’t they?
Or they say: I thought about writing about my little sister and the way she…. but then I decided it was too corny…
And we read through their email, and we think, “Why the heck didn’t they write their essays this way?????”
People have this great habit of writing great emails to EssaySnark. Emails where they pour out their heart about something. Emails where they are AUTHENTIC and REAL.
Emails that should become essays.
And so we write back to them: Brave Supplicant! Yes, you’ve got it! Use that!
And so this post is telling all of you: USE THAT!
This is especially important for Stanford. They blast this advice all over their darn website but do you listen?
No. Not, at least, until after you’ve made EssaySnark want to slit our wrists with bad drafts first.
Here’s a novel idea: A leader is someone who acts with imperfect information. A leader is someone who makes strategic decisions in times of ambiguity. A leader is someone who has his own style. A leader is someone who does her research and puts in the effort… and then commits. Leaders trust their instincts.
Use your gut. Work that intuition. Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, how in the heck are ya gonna get anybody else to do so?
Maybe some people have to go through the grueling process of a dead-end draft and a failed false start of an essay before coming to this. Maybe some people have to have EssaySnark gently tear their writing to pieces and tell them it needs a do-over before they can do this. Maybe it only comes from a place of desperation, where you give up, you surrender, you throw up your hands and STOP TRYING SO DARN HARD, that the honesty is given a chance to see the light of day.
We sure wish it didn’t work this way. We sure suffer through your pain, nearly as much as you do. We sure would like it if people got to this place sooner.
But you know what? This is a process. Particularly when you’re struggling with those crazy Stanford essays, where you’re faced with gosh-darn-it difficult questions, where you really truly do need to dig deep and uncover stuff.
Applying to bschool is a remarkably challenging, revealing, and often downright painful proposition. We try and make it easy on you Brave Supplicants. But there comes a point when all we can say is, “Nope, that’s not it, this is off, that’s missing the target…” — over and over and over again — and maybe that will prompt you to lift your little head up and bleat “Help me!” in a way that your best self can hear, and rise up, and take over, and rescue you from yourself.
Damn. Sounds like a religious experience or something.