We got a very nice note with a request for a free essay review recently which went like this:
EssaySnark – Thank you for this wonderful resource. I recently found out about this blog from another MBA candidate cheetarah1980 and am completely hooked. I plan to apply to Duke and Tuck (EA) next year and also to Wharton, Kellogg, Ross, and UCLA (R1). Could you please review my Duke Essay When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.
Greatly appreciate your assistance.
31 years, Indian Male, Permanent Resident (Do you recommend I purchase the Indians Guide?)
8 years IT experience (global, work experience in US and EU)
GPA 3.0 from [US school – details redacted for privacy] GMAT 690 (will retake)
Extra Curricular – [details redacted]
First off: Thank you cheetarah1980! We know you wander in here from time to time. We greatly appreciate your kind words about the ‘Snark.
Next: The Indians Guide to Getting In is written for people in exactly this position. It’s also geared towards Indians applying from India and for NRIs of all stripes. Getting the Getting In Guide early in your process will likely save you untold amounts of spinning wheels and strategy re-evaluations.
And: Glad to hear of the plans to retake the GMAT. A 690 might squeak someone in at one or two of the schools named, but combined with the GPA, we’re nervous – particularly given the IT background (many applicants coming from an engineering career have higher GMAT scores so you’re not looking that strong compared to the competition). Since this person has so much runaway ahead of them in terms of starting early, and this being only March and all, we strongly recommend the retest strategy. It can only pay off.
Finally: It’s completely A-W-E-S-O-M-E that this person is targeting a solid list of schools but that list doesn’t actually work under scrutiny, based only upon the fact that the Duke Early Action option is binding. No offense to Duke but we’ve never heard of someone who got into both Fuqua and Wharton who chose Fuqua instead. We’re sure it happens but it’s rare. If you are applying to that whole set of schools, and you play your cards right and end up successful, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. You will HAVE to accept the Duke offer… and that means you’ll be leaving behind those offers from the other schools. This is agony-inducing. We don’t recommend this strategy at all.
Obviously it’s early days and this person just threw out their current thinking on a strategy that it likely to morph and adapt in many ways as they move through the process. But we had to throw that out there.
What we’ll also throw out there is this: There is a limited window of opportunity RIGHT NOW to go out and visit the schools. Classes are still in session for the spring term. Once late April rolls around, most schools will be in finals mode, and then graduation, and then poof, all the students will vanish and classrooms will be dark for the summer.
However, RIGHT NOW is the prime time to go visit campus and sit in on some classes and meet the actual students at the actual schools that you’re interested in.
If someone is targeting this level of ambition, then we STRONGLY recommend going all-out in their preparations for it – including the school visits. This is the time to get that done.
Wow. We managed to write a whole post without even starting in on the essay that this person submitted. We’ll have to take that up separately.
Stay tuned. Updated: See here for next post in this series.