We get it. The bschools don’t like candidates to use consultants. We totally understand why.
Some consultants tell their clients what to say in their essays – even if they don’t literally write the darn things themselves, they dictate the strategy, with the completely Machiavellian attitude that the ends justify the means – it’s OK to say whatever you need to say, as long as you get in.
No, it’s not.
Other consultants are blatantly unethical – we’ve heard multiple reports this year about consultants telling applicants to apply to Columbia ED even though it’s not the person’s first choice school, but they tell them to use it as an “insurance policy” because it’s easier to get in. But the person knows they would walk from Columbia if they were accepted elsewhere. The consultant rationalizes it, claiming that Columbia makes money on the deal by collecting the nonrefundable deposits, so it’s a victimless crime.
No, it’s not.
Attitudes and behaviors like this suck. We don’t like that type of “admissions consulting” (the quotation marks are there for a reason). In the past we’ve called those people “the adcon“. You listen to that “advice” and you self-justify the behaviors and you are changed, not for the better. You start making small compromises of your ethics – not that either of these are what we consider “small” – and sure enough, you get sucked into a black hole of ethical ambiguity, and you end up selling junk bonds or CDOs or reverse mortgages to seniors or whatever the next financial instrument that takes advantage of others becomes.
This post was not intended to be the rant that it’s become. OK, back on track.
The reason we’re writing this post is actually to call out some what we feel to be very shortsighted and irrational behavior on the part of certain admissions committees this year. There are two essay questions in particular that are gawdawful difficult this season. One question is near-inscrutible in its meaning; you read it and read it and you just can’t figure out what they’re asking you to write about. The other is just so damn broad that it isn’t a question.
In case you’re not following, we’re talking about MIT Essay 1 and Harvard.
We know that the schools don’t like applicants using consultants. We know that consultants taint the waters. We know that applicants often aren’t presenting their authentic true selves when there’s too many advisors contributing to the mix. We know that consultants influence the final product. We know that this pisses some of the adcom off to no end.
One reason that essay questions change every year is so that those books floating around of “Harvard Essays That Worked!” are deemed useless. Dee Leopold must’ve been miffed when some of her HBS students launched a company selling HBS essays – using money from the school to start the company . So much for screening candidates for honor and integrity (not to mention loyalty).
Darn. Off track again. What is our point?
OUR POINT IS THAT THIS YEAR’S ESSAY QUESTIONS ARE GOING TO SEND APPLICANTS RUNNING INTO THE ARMS OF ADMISSIONS CONSULTANTS.
Check out the comments starting to flow over on the Harvard thread on GMAT Club. People don’t know what to do with this essay. The drafts we’ve seen so far demonstrate that in spades.
And MIT? Like, really? What are you people asking??
Wharton had an awful question last year that was completely obtuse, but it was one of several that you could choose from. If you didn’t want to deal with it, you could have opted for one of the other selections. And it was part of a set of three essays in the app. MIT has just two total for their application. Sloan is going to be getting useless essays from a lot of people this year. Like, HALF of their essays might be bad.
We get it, the essays aren’t supposed to count for much. Then why do the essays AT ALL? Why put people through the wringer like this if the essays really don’t matter?
If the essays do matter, then gosh darn it, please be direct and ASK WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW.
Like UCLA has done. Refreshing, that. Thank you, Anderson. You don’t need a secret decoder ring to understand what they’re asking.
When an assignment is easy to understand and straightforward to accomplish, it instills confidence in the person being asked to complete it. A confident person is a self-sufficient person. EssaySnark had always assumed that that’s the kind of person you schools are looking for. Instead, we’re betting that HBS and MIT have now contributed to an increase in YoY revenue in the admissions consulting industry.