A couple days ago we told you which school was voted “worst essay questions” this season.
Well, who do you think won for “best essays”?
Booth had one open-ended question – just like HBS, except that you could do a PowerPoint or an essay for your Chicago app.
In fact, when HBS first introduced their open-ended “tell us whatever you want to tell us” question two seasons ago, they were, inadvertently or not, copying Booth’s approach. The cornerstone of the Chicago application for many years now has been their PowerPoint “essay”. The radical move on Harvard’s part was making the open-ended question the only essay, and that it wasn’t even required. For Booth, the question was just as open-ended this year, and it was all you had to complete for their application.
As a reminder, Best Essay Question two years ago was a three-way tie between Booth, Berkeley and Duke – but the questions those three asked were quite different at the time. Best Essay Questions last year was Duke by a landslide. Duke has maintained those same questions and came in Second Place this year. The reason that people like them so much? Because they also have a more structured but still open-ended question, 25 Random Things, where they ask you to tell them a bunch of stuff about you. Whatever you want.
Which is essentially what Booth was asking for, except that you could do it graphically. With pictures and stuff.
Any schools reading this might take note – especially those that came in so far down on this list like Columbia. Columbia had a quasi-“fun” essay this year, where you were asked to tell them about something that your peers would find to be “pleasantly surprising”, but that still isn’t in the same category of what these other schools are doing.
Our guess for why NYU is so far down on the list is merely because fewer BSers were applying there. Again, that’s a total guess; our survey did not ask specifics like that, so we have no way of knowing. NYU has had an open-ended question for years; they practically invented that form of essay, in fact. But they also have a more regimented career goals question, and apparently those are just more work than fun for all of you applicants.
Harvard still had a showing this year, coming in at #4. We always are surprised by that, frankly, because that’s the essay that causes people so much grief. Sure, open-ended sounds good but then you start to write the darned thing… and maybe send it over to EssaySnark for some feedback… and things usually get ugly before they start to get better. Of course, we asked for opinions on “the best” and many people feel that they can actually share the things that are important to them – the things that they think the adcom should know – when there are no limits to what they can say. So, from a purely “I communicated something I feel is important” perspective, we can certainly see the value of the HBS essay question.
Of course, everyone voted for these schools a month ago. Perhaps if we asked them this question yesterday… when a HBS and Booth were saying “Sorry, thanks for playing!” to so many, then the survey responses may have been very different!