>We got a couple emails asking for the same thing recently, one of which went like this:
I am an Indian IT guy and considering the huge competition from this sector , could you please give me a few pointers on how i could distinguish myself from the rest . Because with so many applicants , most of the tricks in the book must have already been applied by one or the other applicant .
Do you have links to essays that would be closer to what an ideal essay would be like.
Sorry, but no. We don’t do that. It would be irresponsible of us and it would not help you. And also: Don’t you see the flaw in your reasoning?
You don’t want to use the “tricks” that you’ve heard of elsewhere because they’ve been done before.
But you want to see an “ideal essay” because… ?
Don’t you think that whatever we might publish as “ideal” would be instantly copied and reused and in other ways appropriated by dozens of other desperate folk?
(Oh wait. You wanted us to tell JUST YOU what an ideal essay looks like. You want pointers from us that we’ve NEVER GIVEN to anyone else. Hm.)
The reason we don’t post samples of “ideal” essays is for the same reason you cite: they would be “applied” (to use a polite word) by applicants looking for a leg up.
We’ve heard admissions directors complain that whenever they release new questions, a good portion of the essays they get are nearly identical, because inevitably, some “admissions consultant” (yes that’s in quotes for a reason) posts some “trick” about the essay or tells people how to answer it, and everyone does that. And it’s not what the schools wanted to see anyway. (In an interview recently, Stephanie Fujii at Haas said that they used to have a question asking something like, “If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?” and they got all these essays that said “I would want to have lunch with the person that I will be in 25 years.” Ugh.) This year we saw a published article from some “consultant” telling all Columbia applicants not to choose the “outrageous business plan” essay question. Say wha?? Why the h3ll would the school ask the question if they didn’t want people to answer it!?? This is so misguided it makes our head spin.
Brave Supplicant, we are absolutely not going to do anything that would hurt you like this. EssaySnark would never want the material we present here to be a cause for people NOT getting into bschool!
Yet that’s what would happen.
Us providing “good” essays would be just too tempting.*
Now probably, anyone who is the type that would copy or reuse a sample essay probably won’t get in anyway, regardless of whether EssaySnark provides samples or not; that type of Brave Supplicant is not brave, they’re lazy, and they’ll probably make a gazillion other mistakes that people make when they’re not thinking for themselves.
But the whole philosophy of this-here blahg is the “teach ’em to fish” strategy. This is what we do:
- Talk about common mistakes and gotchas
- Dissect actual essays to see how others make those mistakes
- Talk about how a good essay is structured (we do a lot of this in the SnarkStrategies Guides)
- Talk about what needs to go into specific essay types
- Give resources for further self-instruction
And of course with the 30 Days of Essays Guided Tour, we have been offering day-by-day assignments and writing exercises to help Brave Supplicants identify their theme and create their own message.
We are certain that this was a well-meaning request. We hope the sender of this message now understands the issues with it and why we are declining.
If we were to post someone else’s “ideal” essay, it would be in one of these categories:
- An essay that EssaySnark thinks is good but has yet to go through the review cycle of the target school, and thus we don’t know if it’s really good since the verdict from the one that matters — the adcom — has yet to be rendered. And it would be unfair to the Brave Supplicant who wrote it because if the adcom gets multiple essays that look suspiciously similar, who can tell which was the original? If we’re in the midst of a current application cycle, well that would just suck.
- An essay that has gotten an interview, or better yet, an offer of admission for the author — yet we don’t know if it was because of the fab essay, or some part of the profile that was overwhelming awesome, or maybe the applicant was the daughter of the best friend of the University president. In this case, the original author would be safely on the other side of this nasty process and so would theoretically not be penalized in any way… except if the adcom saw a suspiciously-similar essay come in later that season, it could still raise eyebrows about the original author.
- An essay that EssaySnark ourself wrote to try and create an example of an “ideal” essay for our needy audience — but which has never gone through any validation of being actually accepted or rejected (besides, EssaySnark already wrote essays that were accepted — we’ve already been admitted to bschool — why in heck would we want to go through THAT again??). What good would this do for anyone? This doesn’t get you any closer to the goal of learning to think for yourself. And it sounds like work for us. Ick.
It’s like the poor souls trying to beat the GMAT verbal or TOEFL by memorizing a bunch of rules about English. You’re not gonna win that way. Best case, maybe you get a decent score on a test, but you still flail on the AWA, and your application essays are lousy, since you don’t understand the way the language actually works.
Everyone is unique. There is no one way to write an essay. There is no such thing as an “ideal” with this. By publishing what EssaySnark calls an “ideal essay” we would be doing everyone a disservice. We would be stiffling creativity. We would NOT be helping you better express yourself.
We offer a gazillion resources that are designed to steer you in the right direction, like those essay guides, and the 30 Days dealio, and our daily postings (and occasional rant). What we WILL do is review YOUR essays to see how they shape up against the elements of what make for a good essay which we are constantly trying to espouse here on the blahg.
If this Brave Supplicant hasn’t gotten totally PO’ed at this here ‘Snark by now, then he is welcome to send along an essay for a free review and posting, and we’ll see what we think.
*And sorry, we also don’t give one individual person something that we would not publish to the world. And we most definitely don’t do it for free, in response to a private request for same. Sheesh.