This was another comment left on that “buzzwords” post from last week. It was a multi-part question; we covered the first part in follow-ups about the missed opportunity of blindly inserting buzzwords into essays but we neglected to cover this second one. Because it’s a doozie 🙂 and deserves a full post of its own!
Here’s what BSer ystephxie asked.
And is it appropriate tell the truth on why you want to go that school? i.e. location? family? or ranking?
All of you know by now that we’re big proponents of the truth. You should never lie in your apps. Just, don’t.
Should you tell the school that the reason you’re applying there is because of their ranking?
Let’s turn that around, shall we?
If the reason you want to go there is their ranking, then you’re essentially telling them that that’s the reason they should accept you.
It’s like telling someone you want to go out on a date with them because they’re rich.
All you’re doing is saying that someone else says that the school is “good.” You’re not saying how YOU think the school is “good.” It’s also a pretty superficial thing to say, dontchyathink?
When you say “the ranking” is what attracts you to them, they’re you’re essentially negating every other thing that you might also be offering up as a reason to want to go there. If you use that along with a smattering of those buzzwords like the “collaborative community” yada yada yada, then the adcom reader will instantly know you’re just blowing smoke. Because that means that if that same-exact school with all those same-exact features of “collaboration” and what have you was not ranked highly enough for you to think of it as being prestigious then you would not be applying. It kinda negates all those other reasons that you’re professing are important. Doesn’t it?
Because there are in fact a gazillion other schools out there that have the “collaborative community” and all that jazz, but don’t happen to find themselves in the Top 10 list of some major publication. And we don’t see you applying to those. Yet if you really did value those aspects, then you would be. Right?
Hopefully the flaw in the logic is now clear.
We actually talk about this “fallacy of rankings” thing quite a bit on the blahg. (Try clicking on that little “rankings” link at the bottom of this post for starters or go here for a start.) We’re not saying that rankings don’t matter. (And we’re not saying to lie on your apps!!!) What we are saying is, to consider this from the perspective of your audience. To walk through the argument you’re making, and see how it might be perceived from the other side. Your application is a pitch – it’s essentially a marketing document. That does not mean that you make stuff up in it. That means that it’s your job to convince the buyer (the adcom reader) about what you’re selling.
Aren’t you more swayed by an authentic and rational argument about the benefits of a new product, more so than the slick huckster words of a snake oil salesman who is dripping sticky compliments all over you about how beautiful you are?
So in this case, as you can tell, no, we don’t think it’s terribly helpful to say that “rankings” is a high-value reason to cite in an essay.
Family or location? Sure, those can be relevant – depending of course on how they’re expressed – and provided that they’re not offered up as the primary reason you’re applying. Wanting to go to a school because it’s convenient is not the most compelling reason for a school to decide to admit you.
Think about things from the adcom’s side, people. Consider your audience. Look at the big picture.
Again, that’s what leaders do, right?
So, while we know (hope) that BSer ystephxie wasn’t asking if they should lie in their apps, what we’re suggesting and through this mini-series of posts on buzzwords is, perhaps there’s more reasons for why you want to go to a specific bschool than what you’ve uncovered thus far?