One of the ways that BSers get tripped up in writing their essays is that they forget that the reader does not know what they know. It’s a very common phenomenon that happens to everyone: Once you learn something, you have trouble accessing the point of view of someone who doesn’t know it.
The stuff that’s the most obvious you just isn’t to your reader.
This plays out in several ways, the most common being simply overuse of jargon. You may think that a sentence about how you “structured regression testing for front end components of system” is totally obvious – but guess what? It’s not.
The other way you need to remember your audience is to keep in mind that they’re American (at least, if you’re trying for the U.S. schools).
This means that things that may appeal to you about, say, why you want an MBA may not be so appealing for them to hear about. In fact, it can sometimes be a little off-putting.
In some other cultures, status and prestige is really important. It’s understood as a motivator. You want to go to a great school so that you have that stamp of approval.
But guess what? American culture is not like that. We’re all about the egalitarian mindset, and there’s even a sense of distaste associated with the “elite” and people who have “power” – it’s not really something that we’re supposed to aspire to. We certainly aren’t supposed to admit to wanting status (even though people drive around in their flashy BMWs or whatever – yes we have that too, but it’s considered a little classless to be focusing on it or talking about it). So just be careful in how you talk about your reasons behind wanting the MBA. If all you want is the prestige factor, then that’s not likely to come across in a very appealing way to your reader.
The other way you should try to keep your audience in mind is simply to remember that your adcom reader is likely exhausted, having probably read dozens of other apps already before they pick up yours. They probably are wishing for a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate or a shot of tequila and instead, they get to read your essay. Yes yes yes your essay is brilliant and so worth reading! But still. Make it easy on this adcom person.
Don’t say stuff like “I have done financial risk evaluation of enterprises for banking loans.”
Or put stuff on the resume like “Assessed quantitative value of synergy and potential upsides in formulating long-term strategy.”
Those sentences may seem innocuous to you, but believe us when we tell you, they are NOT easy to figure it out. Sure, the reader can stop and read every word and put the meaning together – but that totally interrupts the flow. There’s an easy way to communicate your ideas, and a not-so-easy way.
You want your essays to be like butter… to just slip through your reader’s fingers, effortless.
Or maybe silk would be a better metaphor, since now all we can think about is how greasy and yucky our fingers are. And we are thinking about movie theater popcorn, with gobs of butter on it, and we’re getting hungry, and we are no longer thinking about the brilliance you have offered forth in your essay.
Putting yourself in the shoes of your reader is one of the most valuable thought exercises you can do when you’re writing. It’s also really really hard. After all, how do you forget what you know, in order to write from the perspective of someone who doesn’t? It’s tricky. It’s one of the many ways that a qualified consultant can be so helpful to your process.
You should be writing your essays at a level that your grandmother could understand them. No jargon. No acronyms. Simple words, simple phrases, simple sentences.
Remember who your audience is. Be kind to your reader.