As a follow-on to yesterday’s post on joint MBA + Master’s programs and is it easier to get in, here are some specifics on how things are evaluated. Most universities handle admissions separately for each of their schools. It’s like each school — the business school, the law school — is operating individually within the…
We don’t post sample essays – for the same reason that the most transparent admissions director in the world does not.
Who is this most amazing admissions director?
It’s Matt Clemons at Harvard Kennedy School.
He maintains a Tumblr which is an incredible resource to the applicants to his school. Maybe we like him because he’s upfront in stating how important the essays are to an application. 😉
Here’s part of a post from this season :
“I think sharing samples would likely do more harm than good. In my case, when I see a sample of something it is hard to get the sample out of my head. Following sample essays is not a good idea because you want your essays to be distinctly YOU, something that will leave a lasting image in the mind of the application readers. Following an essay template is likely to make an essay clunky, for lack of a better term.”
We agree. The temptation to model your own essay on one someone else wrote is just too great — and many people get in DESPITE of their essays. If you have a buddy in bschool who’s willing to share his essays with you, think twice before accepting the offer. (And please think many more times than that before accepting their advice on writing yours!!)
Seeing sample essays will not help you be more authentic. Essays are your best attempt to present YOU. Another person’s essays presented THEM.
The worst type of essay you could read is one for Yale or Stanford. If you hear about someone else’s answer to what matters most or their biggest commitment you cannot HELP but get caught up in a trap of thinking about the question one way. That one way is the way that that person answered it. These questions have no one right answer! The only right answer is the answer that comes from YOU.
The most frequent time that we get a request from a BSer to “see a sample” is after we have given them two or three rounds of feedback where we have had to say “nope.” They’re at the place where they’re stuck. They are spinning in circles and they’re getting frustrated. They keep sending us stuff that is not progressing and still off the mark. They’re at the place where they need to dig in and do the mental work of figuring out what we’re saying to do, where they need to change course and try something new. But instead of doing that digging-in, they want to see a sample of how someone else has done it. We get it, that might seem like a good solution, but it’s then that we point them to the many posts on the blahg about why we don’t post samples. When you’re seeking examples from outside, it’s actually because you’re right on the precipice of actually figuring something out on the inside. Stick with it. Keep reading our site for posts like show, don’t tell, and the essay guide, and whatever App Accelerator tutorial you’ve subscribed to. Do some brainstorming. Make lists. Step back from the material. Then come back to it again when you’re fresh.
We promise, if you keep working at it, it will make itself clear to you. The lightbulb will go on and it will pop into place.
Reading someone else’s finished product is not how to make that happen.
When the most transparent admissions director in the world publishes everything about the admissions process EXCEPT sample essays then that should be a clear signal to you on their relative value – or potential to do damage.
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With the proliferation of specialized master’s and new application options, more and more bschool applicants are being enticed to expand their horizons and try for simultaneous degrees. There have long been available certain specialized combinations that were geared towards specific industries or tracks, including the MBA / MPH (Master’s in Public Health) or the MBA…
We got this super exciting update from a Round 1 BSer who’d been waitlisted at a Very Good School, and we just had to share it with you (with permission, of course). Enjoy and be inspired!
I know I have been radio silent for the past few months, but I did want to touch base to give you an update. Just a refresher on who I am – I used your waitlist assist service in the fall after I got Further-Consideration-ed at HBS. I am a former management consultant and currently work as a [career in education, exact details redacted for privacy]. I had originally applied to the Harvard MBA/MPP joint degree program, so I applied to both HBS (R1) and HKS, and I had planned to apply to MIT Sloan in round 2.
First of all, your feedback – though hard to hear at times – was very helpful. I used your feedback on my resume to totally re-work my resume for the HKS app, and I used your comments on my essay to similarly improve the level of detail I gave in my HKS essays. I guess I am probably not the best judge of my own work, but I did feel that both my resume and essays were stronger for HKS in terms of detail about me and my accomplishments.
Second, the status update: In the end, I was not invited to interview (as you predicted). I was, however, admitted to HKS. After going through the application process, though, I began to re-evaluate my choice to apply to business school at this stage of my career and my choice to narrow my options to HBS and MIT (which, granted, was largely driven by location). I realized that 1) I am fairly young, so I don’t need to rush to business school right now – I could decide to apply again in two years, and I wouldn’t be too old to be admitted; 2) I had my heart set on HBS because my colleagues all went there and many of my peers attend, and if I’m being honest I was enamored by prestige, etc., but there are actually several schools I did not strongly consider that I think could be a better fit, such as Yale SOM and Berkeley Haas, and 3) going to business school certainly could help my career in education, but having classroom teaching experience is also something that I’ve seen can massively bolster the credibility of leaders in education, and that is something I’ve long considered doing.
As a result of this thought process, in the end I decided not to apply to MIT or to attend HKS. Instead, I applied (and was accepted to) Teach for America. I’ll now teach in a public school for at least 2 years starting in the Fall, after which I may still apply to business school.
All of this may seem a bit random, but I am very excited about the path that I am taking, and the HBS rejection might have turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Again, I appreciate your candid feedback, which I think was definitely crucial to the strength of my application to HKS (and for the resume I submitted to TFA). Look out for me again in 2-3 years!
See? Toldja it was inspiring! We say it all the time and stories like this are proof: The MBA is not the be-all / end-all. There are lots of ways to get where you want to go. Sometimes it takes getting rejected (or even sometimes, getting accepted!) before your next steps become clear to you and you see what the right decision is.
Good luck to this BSer! We do hope that we hear from them again in a few years’ time — provided that the MBA is in fact the best next step for them then.