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…
We have never published sample essays on the blahg.
We also encourage you not to read others’ essays even if they make them available to you.
As we have cautioned umpteen times before, reading other people’s essays will not make it any easier for you to write yours.
And, there’s never any guarantee that someone who got in to a top school was admitted because of their essays.
It’s possible (not common but possible) to have craptastic essays and still make it in.
And, the importance of quality essays is widely variable by school. Some schools can be fairly easily swayed by an excellent essay, even in overcoming some significant flaws in a profile.
Some schools are so GMAT-rabid that they won’t really care if the essays are only mediocre.
(Truly craptastic essays won’t make it in anywhere. We were being flippant a few sentences above with such an assertion.)
Anyway, every now and then, someone does come along, usually a newcomer to Snarkville, and they ask, “Can I please see an example?”
We’re here to tell you once again a vehement “No.”
It won’t help you.
And now we have science to back it up.
Behold, from researchers at Harvard Kennedy and UC-Berkeley:
Also saved on our servers in case that link ever breaks
Some notable quotes:
What we do offer are actually reviewed essays — drafts submitted for the purpose of public snarking. By definition, we only publish those that need help. There have been one or two submissions over the years that were so good, we chose not to publish them, and instead only spoke in roundabout terms on what the BSer did well, to benefit them and everyone else. Here’s the full category of such snarking so that you can dig through and learn.
We know that other MBA admissions consultants do publish examples of “good” MBA essays. If you’ve been coming around even half a second of your life, you have already figured out that EssaySnark helps our clients get results because we do not do things the way other consultants do.
Thank you to Dr. Rogers and Dr. Feller for this research.
Finally: If you clicked on that link to the scientific study up above and immediately clicked away, here’s the article on Medium that first alerted us to the research . In case that is more accessible and better in your comfort zone. Though we’d also encourage you to go back and read the actual study. It may be mentally more taxing than you’re used to, but it is a great skill to have, to deal with actual research papers — especially when you’re claiming you want to go to grad school!
You may also be interested in:
- Seeing sample essays will not help you be authentic
- “But EssaySnark, I hear from other consultants blah blah blah”
We could be totally off on this but… based on our reading of the tea leaves and examining the overall state of affairs in MBA admissions and the world so far with Round 1, we’re starting to wonder about things. We had been pretty confident when the season opened up that things would be stable…
Aw man, here we go again. Yet another post from EssaySnark on ethics. You’d think we’d get sick of hearing ourselves talk about this.
Because it matters.
Especially in this mixed-up world we’re living in now. Ethics really really matters.
In case you missed it, our title says:
That thin line between being smart and cheating.
But that title lies.
There is no thin line.
It’s a bright red line that is really easy to see, and even easier not to cross.
Admittedly, it may be a tiny bit confusing, when there’s admissions consultants like the ‘Snark out there, helping you with developing your strategy for writing your essays to bschool. When it’s so open and accepted for MBA applicants to work with admissions consultants, then that may send mixed signals.
It can also be confusing when the accepted wisdom for smart Brave Supplicants is to work openly with your recommenders, to talk with them about what they might want to write, to even suggest some possible ideas or do some brainstorming with them about your qualities and traits. To remind them of the things you worked on together and the ways you did impressive things on the job. That too may send mixed signals.
But actually the line is very clear on how to operate ethically in constructing your apps:
Nobody but YOU writes your essays.
Nobody but YOUR RECOMMENDER writes the recs.
There. Done. Nothing else to say!
We still hear of applicants who went ahead and drafted a letter of recommendation for their boss because he was really busy and he wouldn’t have done it otherwise. Or she doesn’t speak good English so this just seemed like the easiest way. Or culturally it’s not really common to have a manager write a recommendation, so the only way you thought you could get one was to do it yourself.
Or for certain international applicants who have doubts about their own English skills, to just outsource the task and have one of those academic essay writing services write things up. Or heck, there are even unscrupulous and no-morals so-called “consultants” out there who will just create your entire application out of whole cloth.
Dang, there’s even a Resume Writing Service available at a major website that explicitly advertises that they will write your resume for your MBA app.
THIS IS NOT OKAY, PEOPLE.
EssaySnark is probably most miffed at the so-called consultants and advisors who market their services to do this kind of stuff, because they are totally and completely unprofessional and absolutely gaming the system. Yes the applicants are at fault too — nobody should be misrepresenting someone else’s effort as their own. No, it’s not as bad as Photoshopping applicants’ heads onto the bodies of athletes, but damn, it’s not really that different.
It is FRAUD.
So, just a (not) gentle reminder, Brave Supplicant:
If you’re applying to business school, you need to do so based on a presentation of reality. Your own work. Your own essays.
Yes, you can get input, help, education, coaching from others. There are experts who know what to do, and what to avoid. Use them wisely.
But paying someone to write your drafts? Or writing recommendations for your own application? These both are big no-nos and if you’re found out, you will be rejected for this reason alone.
It’s the same as lying on your resume and making up jobs you never held or degrees you don’t have. It is unethical and WRONG. Don’t do it, grasshopper. Just don’t. There is no justification in the world that makes any of this right.
Also, how odd to be posting a regular ol’ post today. Here we are, talking about getting into bschool. On September 11th. Like the most significant day that most of us Americans have lived through in our entire lifetimes. And yet, so much time has now passed from that fateful day…. Weird, how it can be just another day on the calendar now.
There’s an unfortunate reality in this MBA admissions consulting scene where the lack of transparency works against you, the client/bschool applicant.
You want to pick the best advisor to help you with your apps. But how do you know who that is?
How do you evaluate whether an admissions consultant will help you get in — or if they’re planning on Photoshopping your face onto a tennis player’s body?
Our business model is set up to a) divide out each part of the process into individual services, so that you can pick and choose only those that you need, and thus make services more affordable to all, and b) telling the truth.
Sometimes, we get a BSer come through the door whose sights are set high — unfortunately, a little too high, when we see the reality of the profile. It’s not that the profile is flawed or that they’re not qualified. It’s just that they’re all, “HARVARD! STANFORD! WHARTON!” and we’re like, “Well, have you considered maybe Booth or Berkeley?”
We know that that can cause offense. We try to say it delicately, but we know that it can suck to have someone rain on the parade and it can feel like we’re saying, “You suck, a##hole, you’re never getting in anywhere good!”
Which is totally not what we’re saying.
Our Comprehensive Profile Review gives us a chance to look at some of the most important points of the profile. It is, errr, comprehensive. We don’t do free consults with anybody. Instead, we prefer to spend serious time digging into the details, and we develop a report custom to you that you can then use as a resource as you go through the entirety of the process.
This is not how many admissions consultants do things, and unfortunately, we know that there are many out there who are unrealistically optimistic when it comes to telling a prospective client that they have strong chances of success.
So ask yourself, as you are kicking the tires on advisors and consultants, and before you speak with any of them, or pony up some of your hard-earned ducats for a report on your qualifications delivered by some snarkster on the internet:
Would you rather be told yes you can get in?
(And potentially find out later that no you cannot?)
Or would you rather be told the truth, in time to take action and fix the weaknesses, or adjust targets, or in some other way change strategy to make sure that you’re optimizing chances of success?
We might be wrong about saying you can’t get into Harvard — and we would love for you to tell us if we are! But unfortunately we don’t know of a single instance of a false negative, where we told someone “Sorry, we don’t think it’ll work out” and it ended up as an admit to HBS. Yes there have been some cases of a false positive, but even those were closer to a false neutral — meaning, we told people, “Yes you have a shot if it all plays in your favor” and then it didn’t end up working out.
But if you’re shopping for a consultant to “believe in you” well…. not sure that’s truly the best approach.
EssaySnark believes in you, and we will be the first to celebrate your long-shot successes!
But we also believe that it’s professional incompetence to shine on a candidate who has no chance in the world, but based only on a 760 GMAT and a decent college GPA, to convince them that sure, Harvard might want them, when everything else on the profile is lacking that “it” factor that is required for a success story at Harvard.
We do not think it’s the admissions consultants place to tell someone “no you can’t get into Harvard” unless they’ve really gone into the profile — so don’t get caught up in the opposite trap either. There are consultants out there dishing out verdicts on whether a candidate will make it in based on very scant information. (We call those the “adcon” and we do not agree with the tactics.) The admissions teams get to make decisions on your app. Not the consultant. If you’re truly feeling inspired by Harvard and you want to give it a go, we’ll be right there to support you, showing you what’s needed, helping you to make that essay all it can be. We’ve even been known to step in at the last minute and help BSers start their HBS essay over from scratch in the week before deadline, once the applicant realized that the advice they were getting from their original advisor was not quite panning out. (In more than one occasion, those candidates got in.) We will not squash all of your dreams if you’re truly motivated to make them happen! But we also feel strongly in shooting straight, in making it clear when we see essays that are not where they need to be, or a profile that’s not showing the level of differentiation that a school like Harvard requires.
That’s one thing we promise you, Brave Supplicant: After working with us on your essays, you should have visibility into your chances and clear expectations when you submit of whether you’re going to earn the interview invite or not. In a down season, as this year should be, then sometimes we’re wrong in a happy direction, but much much better to have well-managed expectations, that force you to put in real effort and make everything as tight as you can possibly make it, and then be surprised at an interview…. then to do all that work on an app that has low chance even in a downcycle, and then not have enough energy and enthusiasm available to do an equally stand-up job on other schools where the chances are much greater.
So the purpose of this post is just to be an educated consumer. Ask lots of questions before signing up with any consultant. Make sure you understand their philosophy of advice, and evaluate what information you provided to them that led to their pronouncements on your chances of success. If you conveyed very little to them, then how can you trust their predictions?
And if a consultant says, “Hmm, dunno, have you considered some other schools?” then let yourself feel the sting of that, and acknowledge, ouch, that’s not what you wanted to hear, but then consider where they’re coming from, and ask why they say it. If there are valid reasons behind it, then instead of shopping for another consultant who will feed you sweet nothings, look at your strategy and see if adjustments might be in order.
It all comes down to your priorities and values. For some people, HBS or bust is a thing, and that’s fine if that’s where you’re at.
But for others, the Round 1 process is rockier than necessary, and having a hurt ego because a consultant said “Hmmmm” is way better than having a total blow to your self-confidence when a consultant says “You’ve got an excellent shot!!” and then HBS cuts you loose at the first chance they can in October.
As we started to discuss yesterday: Yes, applications have gone down to the top schools in the U.S. Simultaneously, there’s been a strengthening of interest in bschools in places that aren’t called the United States. We’ve talked about this plenty o’ times, and it seems to be largely attributed to the image of American unfriendliness…
Apparently it’s time for our “Is there a bubble?!?” post. We write these every few years (2015 version: Our annual “bubble” post; 2014 version: The whole “MBA bubble” thing rises again; 2011 version: The cost of education/is there a bubble? 8-part series), because apparently it’s a cyclical trend. The media gets bored, or someone (usually…
One of the very resilient myths out there in MBA Admissions Land is that you need to work for some big-brand famous-name company in order to get into Whanvard. We’ve covered such myths many times before:
- 3 Myths about MBA Admissions
- *Really* debunking the “big-name company” myth
- And this alternate take: 5 Myths about MBA admissions – and why they’re actually true
If the companies you’ve worked at aren’t recognizable names that your admissions reader will instantly know about, then yes you do need to utilize particular techniques in how you present your work history on your resume and how you introduce your achievements at those companies when discussing them in essays (basically, you set context to convey what you do and what the company does, or for the clunkiest method of all, you use parenthesis on the resume to state the industry the company operates in — which we don’t actually recommend, since there’s more elegant ways to convey it, but many people do this and it’s fine). We coach on these more-elegant techniques in our Reworking the Resume App Accelerator and provide feedback about it as needed in the Essay Decimator essay reviews too.
The adcoms do not care that you have not worked for a famous company. They do not care that you have not worked for a company of any certain size. They only care about the impact you’ve had, given the circumstances and situations you’ve been in. Size of company and type of employer are totally irrelevant.
The other tricky angle is if you work for a family business, but even that is not a problem per se; it just needs to be handled carefully. Check out the ‘snarchive on family business for a starting point if that’s you.
There’s one way that working at a big company might be an incredible advantage.
Or more precisely, working at certain big companies. In certain locations. Like major cities on the East and West Coasts of the United States.
The advantage is this: The admissions directors of top bschools tend to go to those companies to do private info sessions just for them.
When a company hires a lot of undergrads from a university like the University of Pennsylvania, and then two years later, many of those employees are in the market for applying to bschool, then it makes sense that Wharton — and Harvard, and Columbia, and Stanford — may want to be attracting interest from them. When there are deep connections of a university to an employer, then these not-open-to-the-public meet-and-greets tend to happen more.
It seems royally unfair that an admissions director of a top school will be going to your company and spending a few hours there. But that’s how it works in the Real World.
We’ve even heard of some companies hiring admissions consultants to work with all of their analysts on their apps. Wow, talk about a perk of employment!
If you’re in a position to take advantage of any of these on-site meetings with admissions folks, then obviously we say, take advantage! If you’re just some shmuck who’s at a small firm doing good in your community, you’ll need to work harder for your access to admissions.
Such access does not guarantee anything. Even the Mr. Important candidate from Elite-Prestige, Inc. is gonna have to impress the admissions reader when time comes for that app to be submitted. But still. It seems like the playing field is tilted just a tad, that the business schools do this. The answer they give is, it’s the same information they make available publicly at any other info session, and they offer those aplenty at this time of year. It just rubs the wrong way, at least to us, the little guy always concerned about trying to be fair.
We’ll go out on a limb and offer this bold prognostication: It’s going to be easier for the well-prepared candidate to make it into a top MBA program this year. This won’t hold true for everyone; there will still be crowded pools of candidates where each individual will need to fight to stand out, and…
We’ve got a tradition here of keeping data on stuff, and sharing it with you Brave Supplicants, to try and make this whole process a little less opaque, and also help you to prepare (and encourage you to get started early!!) One of our annual posts is this one: When will the darned schools release…