Reblahgging because based on some profiles and BSers we’ve seen, this may be useful again!! We got an essay submitted for a freebie review last November and we spent a day reviewing it for everyone right before Round 2 (Stanford “What matters most and why?”) (tl;dr: getting rejected from Stanford is no indication of…
Actually this tip applies to any essay for any MBA application, but it’s especially important to do this for the Stanford GSB MBA essay about “What matters most and why?” That’s because that’s typically a longer essay (recommended in the 750-word range by the GSB adcom) and because longer essays sometimes take on a life of their own.
What happens is, they start out in one place, with a particular statement about what matters to you in this crazy and mixed-up world… and they….
But it’s not evolution in the context of adaptation to a positive good, like Darwin and how our species is now walking upright. It’s not about being a better fit to the environment, where we’re good at breathing air and we’ll let those fishes continue breathing in water. Oh no, it’s not evolution like that, in favor of life. Instead, as this beast of a draft, this essay-as-organism wanders down the page, it mutates. It shifts. It undergoes this weird slithery transformation. (Some — not naming names — might even call it a regression.)
We’re not sure what kind of dark alchemy you’ve done in your draft, but frequently, by the time we get to the end of it, we’re like, “Whu?”
The ending of your essay bears no resemblance to the beginning.
It’s like one of those hydra monsters, or a Medusa of snakes, each one writhing in its own independent direction.
(Can you tell we’ve been reading too many essays today? The ‘Snark brain is fried. Forgive us our many metaphors.)
Where were we.
The tip for testing your Stanford Essay A is a very easy test for internal consistency.
Read the last paragraph of your essay.
Now go back to the beginning. Read your introduction.
Do they match?
Or did your answer to “What matters most?” wander off into the thicket of confusing ideas somewhere in the middle and get hopelessly lost, never to be heard from again?
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We wrote a how-to guide for applying to Stanford!
Or at least, sort of. Now, we’re not trying to blame the person being interviewed here. This is not her fault. But check out this short video from Stanford GSB: https://youtu.be/kSfwsS2OfPE It’s also posted on this page of their admissions website . OK great. Now, let’s examine the title of this video. On that admissions…
There are so many complexities involved with applying to bschool — and applying as a reapplicant is especially complicated. To a large degree, your reapplicant strategy needs to be built around what the specific school you’re trying for values. The strategy you develop to reapply to Harvard is going to be less similar than what…
If you missed Part 1 of this topic, go read it here first and then continue on. So here’s the thing: When you’re truly differentiated, you kinda know it. You might be the type of person who realizes that you could come across as braggy in certain situations if you’re not careful, because…
Northwestern Kellogg has an MBA entire essay question asking about values this year, and Stanford has asked “What matters most” for years and years and years. Values-driven companies are more attractive to employees, and it’s becoming a prominent feature at many top MBA programs that values are examined and explicitly expressed as part of their…
This is another follow-on post to the “3 Innocent Mistakes” that we wrote about previously. You need to become the type of differentiated applicant that the schools want to see. You need to have a multi-dimensional approach. Stories of leadership and impact are ever more important in this day and age – but unfortunately, from…
We’re resuscitating a post from 2017 today because it’s illustrative of something tangible that you can DO RIGHT NOW to begin working on your Round 1 MBA applications. The references are to some events in the culture that seemed to have occurred a lifetime ago, but only happened in the past two or three years. If you’re not American, you may not be familiar with these references, but hopefully the use of this example shows you the value that we’re trying to articulate in taking this app-strategy advice nonetheless.
One of the hardest things about developing a strong application to business school is figuring out what to write in your essays. Good essays take time to develop, not just in deciding on a topic but in executing a full argument around that topic once you have it. Hardest of all is Stanford’s essay on “what matters most.” One of the best ways to facilitate the entire creative process is journaling.
Keeping a journal as part of your bschool application process helps in more ways than one. If the term “journal” is a turn-off to you and feels too intimate (too much like “diary”) then you can switch this suggestion to just “keeping notes.”
You’ll want to capture the facts and details that you pick up on each one of the schools that you’re learning about. The risk of course is that they start to blur together, and you forget which detail is from which. What school has the GIX1 thing again? Which one does MAP2? Keeping notes on the different programs will help you keep them apart. A journal (or just a notebook where you’re jotting down what you learn) will let you do that.
The harder part about essays, though, is presenting stuff about YOU. Most applicants stay at a surface level in what they write on their topics, even on essay questions that invite you to go deep. Brainstorming and recollecting significant events from your past is one of the best ways to identify meaningful topics for certain essays. Getting in the habit of writing about the events of your day-to-day life — even the mundane and the routine — is a smart thing to do since it’s so effective in helping you to generate ideas without having to try so hard to do it.
Want to know the real secret about keeping a journal, though?
Finally, writing a daily journal (or just keeping notes on your bschool research activities) is an excellent way to counteract the tendencies of BSers towards procrastination. If you commit to something simple like writing a little every day in a journal, then you’ll be setting a stake in the ground in this daunting MBA application project. You’ll be actually GETTING STARTED. One of the biggest risks to your apps this year is putting off the essays. Procrastination is your worst enemy. By beginning a journal then you’re starting with baby steps; painless ones. You’ll be sneaking up on yourself, doing something productive and tangible in the overall process of applying, yet without hardly noticing it. Keeping notes and maintaining a journal – or just capturing ideas that come up for you in an informal way – will let you sneak up on yourself and get started with something that is often intimidating. Many people don’t start their work on their essays until really late because they just don’t know where to start. They put it off and they put it off, until finally it’s August and they’re up against a wall and they panic and start to scramble. Talk about stressful.
It’s still early in the cycle – but not so early that you shouldn’t be thinking of ways to begin. Keeping a journal – or if you don’t like that term, then just starting a systematic process of note-taking, where you capture info on schools and your thoughts and experiences on a regular basis in one place – can be an excellent entry point into the overall project of starting your essays. It’s a great way to sneak up on yourself and make yourself begin something that’s otherwise daunting and tough to tackle, and it will let your subconscious start to ruminate and marinate on ideas about what you’re going to write in those essays.
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We’ve got this thing where you can submit an essay for consideration for a freebie review here on the blahg and since we began talking about Stanford this week, here’s an essay from last season, for Stanford GSB’s classic “What matters most to you and why?” torture device essay question. It’s possible that Stanford will…
So you want to go to Stanford. Well hmm. The thing with Stanford is that it’s pretty impossible for anyone to say if you have an honest-to-goodness chance to get in or not… except for Stanford. We often can tell when it’s likely a no-go — as in, someone has little to no hope at…