We’ve got this thing where anyone can submit an essay for consideration for a freebie review here on the blahg and look! Someone submitted one! And they did so before it was too late for us to look at it before deadlines! This is for Kellogg essay 2 whose question is: Kellogg’s purpose is to…
We know that this is an innocent error — a well-intentioned one, even. But it can be a real problem in your essays. When you’re trying to write about why you want to go to the school, you need to reference specific things about that school. You know, like classes and clubs — but more…
The first page of the Kellogg School MBA application has a very polished video that flashes images of the gorgeous new Global Hub building and plays one-second soundbites of students sharing the stress and anxiety (and self-reflection) that they experienced in their application.
It’s easy to tune out and not really absorb any of it. We’re hit with so many marketing messages every day that we become immune.
But we encourage you to spend time with this, and with every other production that every other school you’re trying for makes available. Sometimes their messaging is straightforward; sometimes it’s so overbranded that you can’t actually distill anything meaningful. But in many, there are real gems of wisdom that are not only important but also relevant, and can possibly be reflected on to find nuggets on the inside of you that you can leverage in presenting your message back in your apps.
One comment that somebody makes in the video is “Rankings will not tell you what’s the best school for you.”
This is the type of thing that can wash right over you, because yeah, you know it’s true.
But why not stop and think about it?
Many, many people are focused on rankings and often rankings alone in their choice of an MBA program. This makes total sense, since everyone wants to go to the best program they can. But rankings tell an exceedingly limited story.
The only legit way to choose schools solely on rankings is if you have spent the time yourself to dig into the methodology used by that publication that develops the rankings. If you cannot sit here and spout off the factors and weightings that Bloomberg BusinessWeek uses to identify Kellogg as a Top 10 school, or that USNews does, then it’s irrelevant that Kellogg is Top 10. (Their methodologies are quite different, BTW.) To go only by rankings is to completely outsource the entire selection process to some nameless corporation. Rankings are useful as a starting point, but that’s it. We’re not going to go so far as to say that rankings are fake news but in this day and age especially, you need to be an informed consumer of everything you take in.
After all, we’re talking about YOUR LIFE.
Remember that these promo videos by the schools are designed for a reason. Significant time and effort is put into them. They are the result of many deliberate choices to try and convey something about the school — something that the school thinks is important. While it’s easy to think that all schools are alike, and to review a bunch of websites makes all of them start to blur together, it’s also important to recognize that each school is desperately trying to convey what they’re about.
Sometimes all it takes is that you listen.
Or likely at most top American MBA programs over the past five years. This post focuses on Kellogg mainly because their employment reports are detailed enough on this particular dimension to do the analysis. They’re also a solid general management program which attracts employers of all stripes. They continue to send graduates into the traditional…
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’ve previously spoken of applying for an MBA along with another graduate degree and today we’ll offer additional points to consider as you’re thinking about dual-degree application strategy, including the perennial question of “Is it easier to get in?????” New programs typically do not get that much interest, so app volumes are usually lower, which…
We have a few more thoughts to add to our musings and wild predictions about bschool leadership from yesterday.
First off, despite what we said yesterday, the real answer to the question of “Does the dean matter?” is NO.
If you’re thinking about getting an MBA today, then whoever is the dean should not impact your decision-making (with the one outlier case of Cornell which is an odd situation right now as we discussed yesterday). The school you’re applying to is the school you will go to. It’s like deciding to visit a country based on who is the president. There are many significant reasons for why you would choose to travel somewhere and who holds the top office in that country simply does not factor in (at least, for most travelers, and to most countries, though we’re in a weird world right now you could say).
If a new dean comes in today, or at any point during your pursuit of your studies, there will be no impact on you whatsoever. There will be announcements and parties and he or she is likely to host a coffee chat or happy hour or whatever and try to get to know the students. They’ll go on a listening tour and spend lots of time huddling, and send out surveys and such. But there will be few to no changes that will impact your life or the experience of the MBA.
If a dean came in within the last two years, then it’s different. In that case, it’s no longer a “new” dean — you won’t see articles in the news about the change in leadership on campus — but you are DEFINITELY likely to experience their ideas in action in what happens to you in the course of your education. In this case, the dean does matter. You’re going to be the guinea pig who is in the experiment that they’re running for how to reinvent their school for the next era (and definitely, these schools are in the midst of transformation, whether they’re actively embracing it and becoming proactive change agents or the opposite).
We have already seen that with the “new deans” (in the last two years) at Darden most prominently, and to a slightly lesser degree at Tuck. We have appreciated the much higher visibility presence of Dean DeRue at Ross, and we’re aware of some changes that are underway there now too. Can’t say we’ve seen it at Stanford.
What we hope to see with the upcoming announcements of new appointments that are expected at Kellogg and Berkeley-Haas and also UCLA (Dean Judy Olian is also stepping down) and Cornell (?) is diversity.
As of this writing there are no female deans at any top bschools. Kellogg, Ross and UCLA all had female deans; all of those women have left or are leaving those positions. Alison Davis-Blake at Ross was replaced with a white man.
As of this writing there are no deans from underrepresented minority groups at any top bschools. NYU Stern had an African-American dean; he left and was replaced with an Indian man.
We would be SHOCKED if Berkeley-Haas did not find a woman — or possibly even an African-American or a Hispanic woman — to take over from Rich Lyons. If they replace Dean Lyons with another white man, well….. that just would not be the Berkeley that we know today. Haas has put gender issues front and center earlier than most schools and they will be under enormous pressure to make diversity a priority in their hire. We also wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled in someone from the tech industry. There’s currently a debate in academia (most prominently at bschools) whether an academic dean or a professional manager dean is ideal or appropriate, and it’s largely a function of the type of school that you’re talking about. At a public institution like Berkeley, it may make sense to have an academic take over, rather than someone from the private sector who may not understand the dynamics that go into this type of organization. Or, the opposite may be true. We’re betting that the search team at Berkeley-Haas has been speaking with people at UVA Darden to learn how their transition has gone (current dean Scott Beardsley came in from McKinsey, and UVA is a state school so there are many parallels to the UC situation). Perhaps Marissa Mayer is looking for an entirely different role, now that she’s out of Yahoo? (Though it’s unlikely that the UC system can afford a profile like that.)
There will also be pressure at UCLA to replace the female dean with another woman, or if not a female, then a minority. Ditto Kellogg. We had expected the same at NYU Stern but that’s not how it turned out (there are a number of Indian men running top schools both here and in Europe so while yes, NYU technically has a minority, it’s not exactly one adding to the diversity picture of this landscape of top schools.
So, does the current dean matter? You betcha. It lets you know where your school is at and what you might expect in the coming years of your time there. If you have a newer-appointed dean who’s still in the early stages of his or her tenure it’s more likely that there will be visible and obvious changes happening at your school. If the dean has been in his role for awhile, much less likely (with some exceptions like MIT notably). Studying the profile of the dean can give you some insights into the type of place you’ll be walking in to.
And, does it matter who a school appoints if they have a vacancy pending? You betcha. You can look to the announcement of a new appointment to understand a school’s priorities and values. Do they put their money where their mouth is? Or are they all lip-service instead?
We’ll be watching this space with interest as 2018 unfolds.
Another submission under our attempt-for-a-freebie-review program came in: Just discovered EssaySnark but love the work you do. Genuinely mean it, not sucking up. Have submitted my comprehensive review to you (which is due tomorrow). Meanwhile, request you to kindly provide high level feedback / public critique of my Kellogg essay. Have spent quite some time…
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.