We don’t post sample essays – for the same reason that the most transparent admissions director in the world does not.
Who is this most amazing admissions director?
It’s Matt Clemons at Harvard Kennedy School.
He maintains a Tumblr which is an incredible resource to the applicants to his school. Maybe we like him because he’s upfront in stating how important the essays are to an application. 😉
Here’s part of a post from this season :
“I think sharing samples would likely do more harm than good. In my case, when I see a sample of something it is hard to get the sample out of my head. Following sample essays is not a good idea because you want your essays to be distinctly YOU, something that will leave a lasting image in the mind of the application readers. Following an essay template is likely to make an essay clunky, for lack of a better term.”
We agree. The temptation to model your own essay on one someone else wrote is just too great — and many people get in DESPITE of their essays. If you have a buddy in bschool who’s willing to share his essays with you, think twice before accepting the offer. (And please think many more times than that before accepting their advice on writing yours!!)
Seeing sample essays will not help you be more authentic. Essays are your best attempt to present YOU. Another person’s essays presented THEM.
The worst type of essay you could read is one for Yale or Stanford. If you hear about someone else’s answer to what matters most or their biggest commitment you cannot HELP but get caught up in a trap of thinking about the question one way. That one way is the way that that person answered it. These questions have no one right answer! The only right answer is the answer that comes from YOU.
The most frequent time that we get a request from a BSer to “see a sample” is after we have given them two or three rounds of feedback where we have had to say “nope.” They’re at the place where they’re stuck. They are spinning in circles and they’re getting frustrated. They keep sending us stuff that is not progressing and still off the mark. They’re at the place where they need to dig in and do the mental work of figuring out what we’re saying to do, where they need to change course and try something new. But instead of doing that digging-in, they want to see a sample of how someone else has done it. We get it, that might seem like a good solution, but it’s then that we point them to the many posts on the blahg about why we don’t post samples. When you’re seeking examples from outside, it’s actually because you’re right on the precipice of actually figuring something out on the inside. Stick with it. Keep reading our site for posts like show, don’t tell, and the essay guide, and whatever App Accelerator tutorial you’ve subscribed to. Do some brainstorming. Make lists. Step back from the material. Then come back to it again when you’re fresh.
We promise, if you keep working at it, it will make itself clear to you. The lightbulb will go on and it will pop into place.
Reading someone else’s finished product is not how to make that happen.
When the most transparent admissions director in the world publishes everything about the admissions process EXCEPT sample essays then that should be a clear signal to you on their relative value – or potential to do damage.
You may also be interested in:
- Pitching the adcom with career goals that work
- “I need to figure out the equation for my schools”
- The Strategy of Authenticity
Tell us what you think.