Writing good MBA admissions essays is an acquired skill. That means that you will go through the Four Stages of Learning in your process of developing your applications this year. This model is also referred to as The Hierarchy of Competence and we’ve seen it depicted in a number of ways:
Or our personal fave:
However there’s a problem with learning skills for your apps which is unique to this domain and which is wholly unappreciated by most.
The problem is this: You think you already know how to write an essay.
The Hierarchy and Four Stages models are all totally understandable and easy to accept when considered as part of learning a new skill. You decide you want to learn how to play golf, you know it’s going to be new and different and challenging. You KNOW that you don’t know it, and you know it’s a process to learn.
With writing essays, most people THINK they already know how to do it.
That means, that they THINK they’re at Stage 4 – Unconsciously Competent.
(But they’re actually at Stage 1.)
“Write an essay? No prob. I got this. I just gotta figure out what I’m gonna write about and I’m golden.”
Write write write.
Write some more.
Maybe have a friend read it and say it’s good.
Wait wait wait….
and get rejected.
The only way that most people discover their essays are not good is when their apps are rejected.
And even then, many people will never understand that that was the problem.
They stay at Stage 1: Unconsciously Incompetent for-ev-er.
The part of it that makes EssaySnark cry is that many of the people who are rejected because their essays sucked are actually really strong applicants who could’ve made it in. Had they only known.
So please consider this a PSA: More likely than not, you do NOT know how to write a good essay.
It’s definitely possible to learn this skill on your own (we’ve created an entire blahg dedicated to helping you do so) or you might want to seek out assistance from a qualified admissions consultant (please note the qualifier of “qualified” in that phrase). Just recognize what you’re up against and know that you’re in Stage 1 right now.
The best way to learn new skill is to dive in!