We are guilty of sitting on this particular Success Story submission for oh, like two years? Eeek! Did not mean to leave it unloved for so long but sometimes we get so many of these coming in at a certain time of the year that we get overwhelmed and we just…. lame out.
Anyway, this advice offered is timeless and we’re posting today because, well, some of you are thinking about applying to bschool!!
After serving in the Air Force for five years, I’m getting out to attend business school. I’ll be going to a great university (I would say M7, but I know EssaySnark hates that) with a generous scholarship. Although I used many resources, I didn’t use any professional consultants outside of EssaySnark. I want to say thanks to EssaySnark for their (her? his?) help and hopefully pass along some useful advice to any other military vets in search of perspective.
I was lucky enough to have an attractive background for business schools: I went to a top 10 undergraduate program, had a 3.5+ GPA, and earned a 750+ GMAT score. I also had multiple #1 or top 10% stratifications on my resume from performance reports. At this point, GMAT is probably the only of these you have control over, so I’ll be brief. Having a great GMAT score put me in the in the conversation for applying to top schools. Use GMATclub.com, take online practice tests (I used Veritas Prep, who also has great videos in the app store), and study your butt off. I studied for about five months like it was my second job. It won’t get you in, especially if you don’t execute on the rest of your application or interviews, but can tell you which ballpark you’re in.
EssaySnark’s Comprehensive Profile Review will also tell you which ballpark you’re in – it was so great that I ended up purchasing their military strategy guide and one of their school strategy guides. The benefit of having someone like EssaySnark review your background is that they 1. know business schools very well, 2. know what kind of applicants each adcom prefers, and 3. see many different applicants and can therefore provide a good perspective of where you’re likely to get in. They helped me narrow my search from six schools to four and gave excellent, personalized advice. As for the strategy guides, they were a steal – it’s difficult to find that much useful information compiled in one convenient package for you.
I’ll assume that you’re on this site because you want to improve your essays. Remember, I can only speak for myself and what worked for me;
you could take a different approach and be entirely successful!
- I laid a good groundwork before starting. Two books I highly recommend: On Writing Well by William Zissner and The Elements of Style by Strunk and White . These will teach you to write better and will help the people editing your essays focus on important stuff (themes, clarity, school approach) instead of stupid stuff (basics of good writing).
- The essays I wrote had personal details. I wrote about what was going through my head, good or bad. I wasn’t afraid to write that I was scared, or disappointed, or confused (only momentarily, obviously…), or that I had botched something. I think these sorts of moments actually make the best stories. And, if you’ve read the whole EssaySnark blahg, as you should, you’ll know that stories make the best essays.
- I wrote very casually. I used contractions, like I’m doing now. I read a current HBS student’s essay that wrote very formally, so it can absolutely work… but that’s not really my voice. My goal was for the adcom to read my essay and say, “That was easy to read.” I didn’t try to use two words if one would do the job.
- I read the writing of authors that I admire. Find your favorite newspaper or magazine columnist and figure out why you like their writing. I read a lot of Bill Simmons and Dave Barry columns. They inspired me to throw a little humor into my essays, which one of the adcoms mentioned when calling me for my admission!
If you have access privileges on your account to view our Military MBA content then you’ll see a few more special tips below!
[end nifty military-only tips]
The most valuable asset I had throughout the whole process was my best friend, who had applied to schools the year before; I constantly
picked his brain for advice. I hope you have a similar resource, but even if you don’t, I’m convinced that you can out-prepare the majority
of applicants if you put in the time. In the end, you’ll be satisfied knowing you got into the best school for you. It feels really good
when the acceptance calls start rolling in.
This was not a sponsored post! We did not request this former BSer to talk up our products as they did and we’re also leaving in their rec of test prep provider. The links to the recommended books go to Amazon under their affiliate program so if you click those prior to purchase then we’ll get a small commission. Beyond that, this is just what a successful Brave Supplicant wrote up for us after sharing news of admits a few years back! Thank you again to them and good luck to all of you with your efforts for bschool this year!