We know (hope!) that the way many of you interact with EssaySnark is different than how you’d interact with the schools. Or at least, it’s different than how you’d talk with the admissions people at the schools. Snarkville tends to be a little loose and casual, and that’s fine, we hope it stays that way. Contrast that to when you write an email to inquire about something as important as YOUR FUTURE, then you’re going to use formal sentence structure and professional language, and spend more than two seconds composing your thoughts before hitting the ‘send’ button.
We actually wrote a post about the proper way to send an email to MBA admissions before.
When we work with Brave Supplicants we establish a rapport and it often is friendly and light – and we like it that way.
But there’s one habit that we’ve seen with a certain category of BSer that always makes us pause.
It seems that in some cultures, young women (we’ve never seen men do it) are accustomed to addressing each other as “dear.”
Not as in, “Dear EssaySnark, I want to get some help from you…”
But more like, “Thanks for your help, dear.”
This is not how Americans address each other. At least, not young Americans. Not to be totally stereotypical or anything, but it’s the 50-year-old lady working in a department store who says “dear” to the 13-year-old girl she’s helping at the cosmetics counter. People in the States don’t say “dear” – unless it’s either condescending, or they’re of a totally different generation than you and us. (Despite recent rumors to the contrary, EssaySnark is not a 50-year-old lady.)
The first time we saw this “dear” thing directed at us in a comment from a Brave Supplicant it literally made us gag. We were like, “Wha’?? Who are they talking to?” We thought the person who said it was getting really oddly strangely friendly with us, or they were putting on airs. (Meaning, getting haughty. “Putting on airs” is something that someone who says “dear” might say.)
Over time, we’ve seen it crop up again and again, from more than one person, and we’ve also seen it on the comments on other blogs and websites (not only admissions-related ones).
So we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a cultural thing, and not just some random over-friendly BSer phenomenon.
This post is a caution to any of you young women out there who use the term “dear” in casual conversation. If you’re speaking to an American – unless you’re already close to that person – we suggest that you don’t. Especially not in an email conversation.
It’s just, uh, weird.
We have a bunch of other tips and advice for internationals who are interested in coming to the U.S. for school or work. There’s other important cultural standards that you need to be familiar with. Like, not standing too close to people (Americans like their personal space.) And that you need to wear deodorant (please).
Every communication you have with the school, whether it’s in an email inquiry to the admissions office, a one-on-one conversation with an adcom person at an MBA fair, or with a student or alum who’s answering your questions about their program – all of it matters. Not all Americans are hip to the cultural conventions of other cultures. If you do something out of the norm to this culture, you may stand out – for all the wrong reasons.