But please don’t write it in an MBA essay.
We originally started this blahg because we saw too many earnest MBA applicants (aka BSers) saying earnest MBA applicant things in their essays.
That was nine years ago (and we’d already been reading MBA essays for many years before then).
Alas, not much has changed. 🙁
In essays in past admissions seasons, we got statements like this one from a Brave Supplicant who volunteered in a hospital with children who had cancer:
Blech. Hack. Pffft. No.
(You may read that and think that EssaySnark is heartless and cruel. But please understand what we’re critiquing. We’re not commenting on the courage of Bobby or how sad it is that children get cancer. We’re commenting on the takeaway message written in an essay for business school.)
Sometimes — not often, but sometimes — a statement like that can fit in with a full-featured essay that goes in depth on what YOUR experience in life is. Where you show what you learned in your interactions with Tom. Where you are the protagonist to the story.
But as an observation about what others have had to go through, and saying that their own struggles make you optimistic?
Here’s another one:
The problem with this one is, have you given the adcom evidence that you are TODAY an “authentic and courageous” person? One who “won’t rest until the problem is solved”? If not, there ain’t nothin an MBA is gunna do for you to make you that person.
(Pro Tip: If you ARE able to show “authentic” and “courageous” then you’re going to have a fast-track ticket to success in this process!! And in all of life too!)
The main issue with this sentence is that it is THE OPPOSITE of “authentic.” It’s screaming of “Here’s what I need to say to make you like me.” Or: “This is what I think you want me to say.” Or: “Here’s where I pull out the impressive words that you will thoroughly love. So that you will love me, too.”
It just don’t work, buddy.
If you find yourself coming up with trite statements to pull together the story about how you were so inspired about what you witnessed someone go through or how a major tragedy like the earthquake in Haiti caused you to appreciate the transience of life, please stop and ask yourself: Is this something I truly believe? Or is just socially acceptable platitudes that everyone says — the equivalent of “Man it’s hot today!” or “Gosh the traffic was bad!”
If it’s true for you beyond just a surface-level yes-this-is-true-for-everyone kind of way, then please, go to town with the essay you’re writing! But use that as the starting point and not the conclusion. It needs to be a springboard into the real story you’re presenting about YOU.
But if it’s just another cliche or a sentiment or something you’d see on a Hallmark card, then please embroider it on a pillow and give it to your mother for Christmas. She’s sure to cherish it more than the adcom will do.
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