We have this nifty feature here on the EssaySnark blahg where we allow Brave Supplicants to send in an essay for the hopes of a free review on the site. (Note: You do have to be a paying subscriber to the blahg to submit your goodies.) We also accept questions submitted that way, and this is what we got recently from a Round 2 BSer:
I have been working in Silicon Valley for last 3 years as Hardware Engineer, joined a startup 6 months ago and working in health tech industry. Planning to apply for UCLA Part Time program (FEMBA). My undergraduate is from [Asian country] and GPA is [decent]. Did MS from [American university] GPA [just as decent]. GRE Quant [very average], Verbal [very low], Analytical [very low]. I want to work in manufacturing and operation strategy as post MBA career. Preferably in startup environment. What part of my profile I should highlight in my essay. Do you think I need recommendation from my current manager? Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Hmmm, lots of questions there.
We will start off with hope: UCLA FEMBA is more flexible in admissions and it’s somewhat easier to gain a spot there with a decent profile and a good set of essays. It’s not quite as cutthroat competitive as the other main California bschools. Even a profile like this one – international engineer with very average to below-average stats – can have a chance at this particular program.
But as you can guess where we’re going with this: The stats are very average. Or even below average. We’re frankly very worried about the GRE score.
It’s often better to apply with a GMAT instead of a GRE. We used to say “always better” and we’re changing our tune ever so slightly these days because there are somewhat more cases where maybe a GRE would serve.
But in this case with the crowded candidate pool, and the expectation that this type of person would do just fine on the GMAT, well, the GMAT is better. Here’s our most recent “GMAT is better” post (June 2015) and we’ve covered it multiple times before (you can check the ‘snarchives for that).
But that’s not what this BSer asked, is it.
Here’s what they asked:
Do you think I need recommendation from my current manager? Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Oh hey! We cover that too! Also from the ‘snarchives: Who should you ask for your recommendations.
The schools always want a recommendation from the current direct manager. There are some cases where it’s not the best strategy but if you can swing it, that’s what you should do. If this BSer wants more input on their exact situation, the Letters of Recommendation App Accelerator is designed for exactly that purpose.
Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Yes it’s OK. Is it ideal? No idea. Depends on the specifics of your situation.
What part of my profile I should highlight in my essay.
The part that shows you as an overachiever who’s ahead of your peers.
Beyond that, we have no idea. You didn’t share anything meaningful with us to even begin to answer that question (not that that would be appropriate for the little free ask-a-question thingie, but still). If you’re not sure what that might be, then at risk of sounding like a broken record, we do have this Comprehensive Profile Review service which should at least get you pointed in the right direction.
Or if you’re further along, the Essay Ideas App Accelerator, to get feedback on the topics you’re planning to present in those essays, before you write them. That Essay Ideas service is kind of like creating a prototype, or a wireframe. You build a temporary structure or strawmodel, to see how it floats. (Aren’t you impressed with how techie we’re being today?) The best part of the Essay Ideas App Accelerator is that – as with all our App Accelerators – it includes a tutorial to walk you through the process of developing the content for your essays. So you get a boatload of best practices from EssaySnark, to guide you on the mysterious path to essay nirvana.
We’re still accepting pleas for help and random BSer questions through that ask a freebie question service – heck, you could even try submitting a draft of a Round 2 essay if you have one ready to roll. No guarantees that we’ll be able to look at it in any reasonable amount of time (or at all) but ya never know.