Let’s talk about the idea of reading sample essays or going through your friends’ application from last year. Is it a good idea? Well, we’re not convinced. There’s even evidence it can hurt you.
Them reading yours might, too. Friends don’t let friends…
We understand the urge to want to read an essay that someone else used. It can be suuuuuper tempting to want to see what other people have written in your attempt to figure out this essay writing business. After all, when you’re staring at the blank wall that is your empty Word document, the brain can get a little panicky. It can seem tempting to want to find a model or a sample of some sort, to understand how others conquered this Herculean task and found success.
We just have to warn you though: That’s unlikely to lead you to admissions nirvana.
Instead, it’s likely to actively discourage you.
See, here’s the deal: As we’ve blahgged about before, research shows that reading a high-quality end-product can make the novice writer feel discouraged.
A big factor in this is that the path to a strong essay is usually a very circuitous one. It often feels like one step forward, two steps back. The first few steps especially can be rocky indeed.
If you look at a totally finished, highly polished, sweated-over end product, and you look back at your own ideas for a first draft, it can be really unnerving. You may have in your head this idea of how you might present yourself to the adcom. But unless you write essays for a living (and even if you do: we see horrid essays come out of those pay-to-play essay farms, please don’t be tempted by the unethical services on offer out there) — even if you did write essays for a living, it’s unlikely you know how to write a good essay for admission to a top MBA program. If you’ve never gotten into bschool before, then you’re by definition an early learner of this process. And if you’ve never written a personal essay that was introspective and insightful, and appropriately detailed, and clear, with proper structure, yada yada yada… But then you read someone else’s “essay that won” as we often hear them touted…. Then yeah, you’re likely going to misunderstand the process, and not recognize the amount of personal effort and sweat and tears (hopefully not blood though we have heard of smacking heads on desks at times) and all of this can undermine your own state of mental and emotional wellbeing and turn you into an even greater procrastination monster than you already are.
So yeah. No. We don’t recommend it.
And, we totally get why you’d feel like you need it. Having a model or a template or something sounds really enticing, like, “If only I saw what I’m supposed to do, then I’d have a better sense of how to do it.” It’s unlikely to be the case, though.
As an alternate approach, we recommend starting with outlines.
(“Yuck,” you say. Yes, we know you don’t like outlines.)
Do a bunch of research on your school, do some doodling, do some brainstorming. Write down lists of possibilities.
Start with those. Let your mind explore the topic. Take notes.
Then, sit yourself down and start to structure out your ideas.
Our Essay Ideas App Accelerator has guidance for ways to do exactly that.
It’s going to take some digging in and getting your hands dirty to figure out what to say and how to say it.
And that’s OK.
Seeing other people’s final product isn’t really going to help you in your process of making this essay your own.
Also it’s very common that people get in despite their essays. How do you know if the essay you’re reading is any good?
This project simply takes TIME. There may be some pounding of the head on the table involved. It’s a creative process and ask any artist, and they’ll tell you, there’s some true pain involved in coming up with something that you’re proud of.
Want some input along the way? That’s what we’re here for! Let us know if we can help you find your way out of the morass of essay-writing h3ll. We will get our hands dirty right along with you!!
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