There are differing opinions on EssaySnark’s policy not to provide sample MBA admissions essays for you to look at as you are mustering up the courage to begin the process of actually writing some stuff to submit in your app. It can be confusing to get conflicting advice! We also totally understand the impulse to want to see a finished product that someone else has used to get in to a school you are trying for. It seems natural to want to get a sense of the goal that you’re aiming for.
But alas, this is the type of thing that can lead you astray. A number of admissions directors at top school also warn about it.
We offered advice last month about writing essays to apply to Harvard Kennedy School, and to go along with that, we’ll point you to a corollary post that quotes Matt Clemons, HKS Admissions Director, on why they think you should not look at other people’s essays.
As an MBA example, the first page of the Duke Fuqua MBA application has a list of very useful instructions that are specific to Duke’s processes — some of which are also fairly universal, and are relevant advice to consider in your efforts to get into other schools, too.
Prominent in the Duke instructions is a warning about plagiarism (eek!).
They also tell you that if you’re working with an admissions consultant, that you should speak with that consultant about Duke’s policies and make sure the consultant won’t be sharing your essays with others (another eek!! it sounds like consultants are doing that?? wow).
A few comments on that:
1. What if you send in your essay to EssaySnark to be decimated?
We will never post that essay anywhere. It stays in your private SnarkCenter portal, accessible only to you and the consultant who is on board with supporting you in reviewing it. We’re also quite careful in toeing the line on ethics between what’s reasonable commentary and critique of the ideas, compared to actual editing of a draft. Our MBA essay review service, called the Essay Decimator, focuses on the content strategy that you have come up with, giving you input on how others who do not know you might respond to the ideas on the page, and whether you’re bringing forth a robust answer to the essay prompt that the school has tasked you with. We look at what you have written in the context of this school, your candidate pool, the current admissions environment, and clarity of presentation. It’s a multidimensional review of what you have written — but it’s private, returned only to you. That’s because we don’t share essays, so there’s no one else who will ever have access to it.
2. What if you send it in for a freebie review on the blahg?
We have an option for Brave Supplicants to submit a draft to potentially be discussed on the EssaySnark blahg. How is this not posting sample essays? Good question Brave Supplicant! When we decide which drafts to post, we are careful to only post drafts that are in trouble — drafts that need significant rework before they’re going to be ready for the prime time of MBA admissions. We do not post drafts that are good! We may still discuss the goodness of a good draft, but we are cagey about it. That way, the brave Brave Supplicant who sent in the draft gets feedback and input on what they did well (huzzah!!) while still protecting their actual essay from other applicants who may be tempted to lift, borrow, or outright steal some of the goodness that the original author put together.
In addition, the not-so-great drafts we post through the essay critique category for those freebie comments require a membership to the blahg to see them. They’re not going to end up in the database of those plagiarism-detection tools that the admissions offices use on your apps, the ones that Duke is talking about in their warning. TurnItIn and the other essay-analysis tools, and Google’s spiders and bots, don’t have access. So, even if a BSer ended up using the not-so-great draft that they had sent to us within the actual app to a school, it’s not going to cause a hit on the plagiarism report that the school might be running.
3. Isn’t it interesting that Duke is acknowledging that you may be working with a consultant?
That’s the final comment that we’ll offer: That if you’re using an ethical admissions consultant to help with your apps, it’s not something you necessarily need to hide. There are professional standards within this industry (though not all consultants adhere to them!!) and the admissions offices are aware of which ones are established and providing an appropriate level of service to applicants. Heck, some admissions officers even value what admissions consultants have done to their applicant pool, in terms of helping applicants understand the importance of school fit, and selecting schools that are right for them. The participation of admissions consultants in this process has certainly improved the quality of applications that the schools are receiving. Yes, it also introduces all sorts of problems about access and privilege and resources, which hits on the issues of class and status, and who “deserves” to get in, versus who has the money to pay for additional help. That’s been part of EssaySnark’s concern since the day we began this effort to help level the playing field, and make high-quality MBA admissions advice available at more reasonable rates. (Yes, this stuff is still pricey, that’s a true concern — but the MBA also has tremendous ROI in the end, so some upfront investment can hopefully be justified.)
So yeah. We get why you’d want to have something to look at, as you’re faced with the daunting task of staring at the essay questions and not knowing where to start. If that’s where you’re at, don’t fret, Brave Supplicant — we’re going to be giving some practical guidance to that very real problem of overwhelm moving forward this week!
Because yes, Round 2 is on the horizon! It may be time to start gearing up for the project ahead!
UPDATE: We continued with the subject of getting started in writing your MBA essays HERE!
You may also be interested in:
- Seeing sample essays will not help you be authentic
- We don’t post sample essays for your own benefit – and here is science to back that position up