Writing essays may be akin to navel-gazing. You need to understand who you are and where you’ve come from. One of the most difficult parts of writing many essays is coming up with the “lessons learned” out of a story. Schools like Tuck and Kellogg specifically ask you what you learned from an experience. It’s…
Go read this:
You’d think that an article with the word “scandal” in the title would be interesting.
Did you find that interesting?
Did you even get past like the third paragraph?
Surely there is a story somewhere in there. There seems to be all manner of intrigue and deception and drama. Heck, the very first paragraph had all kinds of salacious words. But the way it was written was OMG boring.
There was all sorts of data presented. But it wasn’t information. And it surely wasn’t interesting.
You don’t want your adcom reader to be either a) overwhelmed with all the facts that you’re tossing out, or b) to be so completely nonplussed by all of it that they yawn and walk away.
For those of you who’ve been paying attention, you might recall than not three weeks ago we were exhorting you to be specific.
It is definitely possible to go too far in the opposite direction.
Here’s the first chunk of that article (we’re skipping the first paragraph which was even more meaningless than this):
The ongoing saga on the third floor of West Hollywood City Hall reached a climatic ending last week, after the melodrama moved to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. There, a jury had to decide whether Michelle Rex, the former assistant to Councilmember John D’Amico, was fired from her job as an act of retaliation.
Lawyers for both sides had spent two weeks catching jurors up on the backstory.
“Michelle Rex was never the problem,” city manager Paul Arevalo testified. “The [council deputy] program was the problem.”
When you’re writing your essays, the first objective is always clear communication.
That means including the information that the reader needs, at the time they need it.
With the very limited space that the adcoms are giving you for your essays, that also means being concise.
In that paragraph above, why is the writer bothering with details like “the third floor” of the courthouse?
Why do we even need to know that the case was transferred from West Hollywood to a downtown location?
How does any of that even matter in the context of the story about why some local politician was fired?
DID YOU EVEN KNOW THAT THAT’S WHAT THE ARTICLE WAS ABOUT?
We frequently get essays that are so convoluted and complicated that we just can’t figure them out.
What you start with at the beginning needs to flow all the way to the end.
There are some exceptions to that, such as with Kellogg essay 2 where they’re asking for two separate things: First, a story about how you changed, and then a story about how you want to change at Kellogg. In that case, the place you begin in the essay is almost definitely not going to be the place you end up. That type of essay has its own set of challenges, since it seems like you need to fit both chunks of content together, when they’re asking for them in one essay. In practice, it may not be workable to connect them explicitly.
But that’s the exception, and that’s not the point of our post today.
Today we want you to use your powers of analysis and discrimination. When you write your draft, set it aside, then come back to it again later. Take a holistic view of it. Starting at the beginning, go through and examine the facts that you’re including. What details are you mentioning? Are they needed for the story?
It’s much more common that a BSer writes an essay with no facts at all. The most frequent issue we see with MBA essays is that they are massive fluffbombs that threaten to float off into the distance and disappear over the horizon. An insubstantial nothingness is at least as bad a problem as an essay that’s been pelted with BBs and buckshot of randonmness, and it’s so weighted down with shrapnel of meaningless offshoot datapoints that it’s barely able to pull its crippled self across the roadway and out of the lane of travel.
(Please don’t write like that either. We’re allowed the indulgence of useless metaphors on the blahg because we’re trying to make a point. Don’t try to do that in your essays. Straightforward writing, that answers the question – that’s always the way to go with your drafts. We’re allowed some indulgence because hey, that’s one way we blow off the steam of frustration from all the hours of reading REALLY BAD ESSAYS.)
Too little detail is certainly a problem.
Too much and you risk turning a good idea into an #essayfail.
Another Brave Supplicant ponyed up the big bucks threw a draft over the transom and asked for some freebie help, this time for Kellogg Essay 2. As a reminder, here’s the question: Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to…
Happy New Year! Yes we’re around! We’ve got the Sanity Check and the Expedited Single Essay Decimator, and also the Speedy Review option for all who are scrambling. Here’s a quick copy/paste post where we’re sharing with you our response to a BSer struggling with what to write for Kellogg essay 2 on “growth.” This…
One of those “Hey EssaySnark gimme some help and do it for free!” requests came in the other day and we were like, “PEOPLE DON’T YOU KNOW THAT THE DEADLINES ARE HERE?!??” We really don’t have time to do these free reviews right now. We’re kinda busy supporting all you Brave Supplicants who are actually…
A Brave Supplicant working on the Kellogg essay asking you to talk about “a recent and meaningful leadership experience” asked us this question recently: Hi ES, How do I know what’s my best leadership story? Leadership is bringing about change, measured through impact, right? Any impactful story that I have might have at work in…
Kellogg has an essay question this year asking you to discuss “growth”. They’re not alone. Berkeley has three such questions asking for personal experiences: The instructions for Haas Essay 2 offer separate choices for you to hang yourself by select from. The specific keywords to note in those Haas questions that tip you off that…