When you’re starting out the process of writing an essay, you will encounter many possible ideas for what to say in response to the prompt that the adcom has served out.
Don’t settle for the first one.
Sure, maybe that first thing you thought of is “it.” Maybe you immediately latched onto the One True Answer for the question that the adcom is asking.
That happens sometimes.
But not often.
Typically what happens is that people think up some thought of what the essay should be about, and they’re off to the races. They write and they write and because the words flowed so well, they are convinced that they’ve done a good job. That it’s a good essay. That it answers the question. That it reveals something significant and meaningful about themselves in the context of their candidacy for business school.
More often than not, they’re wrong.
The trick is not to stop too early.
Many people surface one idea and they are so pleased with themselves that an idea actually came, that they don’t stop to consider that that may have been only a shard.
They are off and running, clutching this tiny little speck of an idea close to the chest, not realizing that they left behind the Mother Lode of ideas, a whole treasure trove of glittering gems lurking just beneath the surface.
What’s especially sad is when a BSer finds fools’ gold and thinks it’s the real thing. They mistake it for an authentic answer.
The brain is not to be trusted in this process. The brain wants to satisfy you. You pose a problem to it, and it says “Ouch you’re making me think don’t do that! Here! Take this and go away, don’t stress me out like this!” And it serves up some idea, because you’ve demanded it to.
What we do without being conscious at all of the process is, we look for the “right” answer, the one that we think will impress the adcom, the one we believe they want us to say, and we go with that.
If you don’t question it, then you’ll assume that that first answer is perfect and awesome.
And, maybe it is. Or maybe it’s just the knee-jerk reflex answer that your brain tossed out to make you stop taxing it so with this thinking-work.
What we’re proposing is, don’t settle. Don’t assume that the answer that came easy is the best one you can come up with. Push back on that weasly little brain of yours. Make it earn its keep for once. Yes, thinking of things to write about is taxing. But guess what? That “thinking” thing is what the adcoms are expecting of you. That’s where you have the greatest opportunity to distinguish yourself among the masses of other applicants.
When you settle for the first thing you think of, you may be cheating yourself of the true gold mine that’s waiting for you.
The adcoms are quite good appraisers of authenticity.
All that glitters is not gold, my friend.
Don’t let that brain of yours cheat you out of finding the good stuff.