“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.”
We know a lot of you are wrapping up your Round 1 applications – congrats!! You should feel very proud of yourself if you’ve managed to submit even a single application. Each one (as you now appreciate!) is a tremendous amount of work, and you deserve to feel good about the effort you’ve made. You’re also likely wondering how things will turn out, and we can’t offer much on that except to be prepared for a whole rollercoaster ride of emotions in the coming weeks — many people on the other side of this process say that the waiting you’re about to go through is the hardest part of all!
We know it’s tempting to chill for awhile after you click ‘submit’ on that final application, and you should feel good about doing some well-deserved slacking for a week-ish after your last app is in.
But before you do! Two new tasks that we’re going to add to your to-do list today:
1. If you didn’t already: Please go sign in to each of your school’s app systems and download the PDF or export your version of the application that you submitted. If you don’t do this now, you may forget to ever go back and retrieve it, and this is information that we hope you’ll never need!! But, in case you end up as a reapplicant, you must have your current-season’s app available to do a good job in strategizing for your repeat attempt. Or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, if you end up getting admitted, then you may want to have a record of your fabulous submission to share with a friend who’s going through it themselves later on. (Not that it’ll provide much value to anyone else. But you never know when something like that will be useful.) The app you submitted will be available to you probably all the way through May 2019, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever think to go back and retrieve it — and if you don’t, and end up needing it, you will be SOL forever. The schools won’t be able to access it from any archive. It’ll be gone to you forever. So, take the time, log on to each one, and file it away (place it somewhere on your drive in your permanent records that are being backed up in case your computer crashes — you do have a backup system in place already, don’t you? If not, then today’s post contains three tasks for you to take care of!!).
2. If you haven’t already: Register to vote! Regardless of where you lean politically, your vote counts! This is obviously being directed to our American readers, but anyone living in a democracy anywhere in the world needs to vote. In America, a midterm elections is coming up in November through which important federal offices will be decided that will determine either Republican or Democratic control of one or both houses of Congress — but at least as important, many state and local governments have critical contests and initiatives on the ballot this Fall as well. Here’s some insight from college students who were interviewed about the importance of voting and why it matters . If you’ve just started your first term at bschool (and you’re American) make sure to register where you live now, or find out how to vote by mail through an absentee ballot submitted in your hometown. Do this now! These things take time to process, and while the election is not until Tuesday, November 6th, most county boards require that registration happen well in advance of that date.
These are things that are in the category of “being proactive” and “taking care of stuff” and they’re never fun to do, necessarily, but doing them prevents a lot of regret later on.
And then you can go back to your Netflix bingeing again.
“When I look around I always learn something, and that is to be yourself always. Express yourself and have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. Start from the root of your being and ask, how can I be me?”
Whatever you think of the man, he’s accomplished some interesting things.
And we tend to agree with this advice:
In our Essay Decimator essay reviews, we are not trying to give you “negative feedback” — we’re trying to give you feedback to help you improve!!! And the feedback we give is not on your character or performance, the way Elon is alluding. Instead, it’s as objective as possible, on your output; on your workproduct. And it’s very targeted for a specific purpose: To help you get in!
It’s not too late to get help on those applications. And it’s never too late to change. All that’s required is to loosen up, be flexible, be open.
If we can help, we’re around!!
“If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.”
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
By sheer coincidence, we had this post long planned just never got around to polishing it up and publishing, and then recently saw a bunch of other MBA app sites also have “Application Myths!!” posts come out. So at risk of seeming like a copycat, we finally pulled this together with a random assortment of myths that are floating about out there concerning MBA admissions — but we’re giving them a twist. We’re explaining why they’re myths and not true, AND we’re also explaining how they are also at the same time simultaneously accurate!
Basically what we’re offering is that there are no hard-and-fast truths involved with getting into business school. There are guardrails and guidelines, and then everything needs to be translated into how a specific adcom at a specific school will be evaluating the facts of your specific situation.
So here’s a few broad categories where BSers can get hung up.
Myth #1: A high GMAT score is enough to get in.
It’s so tempting to believe that if you just get your GMAT high enough, you’re a sure shot to a top MBA program. But for those highly selective Top 10 programs, or pretty much all of the ones listed in the Essay Questions menu here on essaysnark.com, the GMAT score is just one factor. That whole “holistic review” thing is real. You need a high GMAT plus a decent GPA plus solid essays plus impressive recs. And oh yeah, don’t forget the importance of the resume. It’s the whole package. A high GMAT is admirable and don’t get us wrong, it surely helps, but you can’t bank on that carrying you through if there are big gaps or other major weaknesses going on.
Truth: A high GMAT score can totally get you in — to certain programs.
Some programs actually do value a super-high GMAT score almost above everything else. If you’re applying to a bschool that’s really really focused on their ranking and they really want to boost up their class average, and you’ve got a 780 or even higher, then you betchya they’re gonna be interested. When they admit you with your super-high score, then they can also fit in several others with scores below their targeted mean for the class, so you give them breathing room to bring in others who would represent more of a risk to their stats. If you have a very high GMAT then you are going to stand out from the crowd in this tier of school and it does give your application more power.
Myth #2: The essays aren’t that important.
We actually hear this a lot from the adcoms but our experience in working with all you BSers for all of these years says otherwise! We hate to contradict the actual admissions people on this one but very, very often, we’ve seen a fair-to-middling or downright mediocre set of stats come in with an incredible set of essays (after tremendous hard work from the BSer on them, of course!) and then that applicant does in fact get in. The essays overcame the very “average” nature of much of the rest of the profile.
Truth: The essays aren’t more important.
Just like with everything else, it’s a holistic review. If the essays are amazing, but the recommendations are very lackluster and the resume is not showcasing enough readiness and all of that is on top of a <700 GMAT score and a low GPA.... Then no, the essays alone aren't going to get you in. They might get you to the interview, but that's where the utility ends. So we aren't going to completely contradict what the admissions people themselves have to say on it! We do have to ask, though... If the essays aren't that important, why do the schools keep requiring them? That might be something to ask of an admissions person if you hear them say this in a chat or info session! (That would stop the room, wouldn't it, if someone asked that?? 😀 )
Myth #3: Who you know does not matter.
You don’t need to “know somebody” to get into a top MBA program. MIT even says that they don’t care if your parents attended MIT, it’s not going to help you get in. They shrug off that whole ‘legacy’ notion.
Truth: Who you know can help a lot, depending on who, and which school.
Other schools TOTALLY care about nurturing relationships with key alumni and if you’re trying for Stanford and you work at a firm with strong Stanford connections, well guess what? You are at a real advantage. Significant advantage.
Does that mean you need to have those connections in order to get in? No. But it does mean that they give preference to those who do. They can deny it all day long but we’ve seen it, season after season.
Myth #4: What your college major was does not affect your chances.
This article quotes Yale’s admissions people saying that your undergrad major does not matter. “We always kind of chuckle to ourselves [when liberal arts majors call themselves non-traditional], because there really is not a nontraditional background when you look at the applicant pool,” Grodman says.
Truth: Your college major, like everything else, is part of this holistic review, and everything matters!!
That’s totally true, a liberal arts major should not have any trouble getting into bschool solely because they didn’t study business in college.
Your major absolutely matters! It’s part of your profile. If you’re coming in as an engineering major, then that means you’re hitting against a crowded pool. The opposite of this – that a nontraditional major won’t hurt you – is not always true. A standard pre-MBA profile means you have to work harder to stand out from the crowd.
Myth #5: Your career goals should be really ambitious.
One of the most common issues with essays at certain career-goals-focused schools is that they’re vague and ambitious and there’s nothing that gives the reader any confidence that they’re realistic and grounded in a plan. We caution BSers about this in posts like this one about pitching something entrepreneurial (we even have a special-case Entrepreneurial Career Goals guide for this!) or this one in saying you want to be CEO. If your goals come across as too lofty, then it calls into question many aspects of the overall idea of getting an MBA; it can make it seem that you’ve got unrealistic expectations for what bschool can do for you.
Truth: You need to show why the MBA is necessary — which means, you need to be making a significant change from today.
That doesn’t mean you should play it safe with your goals, and there’s even Columbia that asks you to talk about your “dream job” (which we offer a full strategy around in our Columbia MBA Application Guide for 2018!). If the goals seem like they’re only capturing an incremental change or a lateral move, and the adcom isn’t seeing you as a motivated and driven individual who’s gonna go out there and capture the world, well, that’s not exactly the best messaging either. Your essays need to show your enthusiasm and excitement for this new endeavor, and at least in part this needs to come through in the ideas you have for your future career.
So, basically this means there are no rules! Just lots of ways to get hung up and crazy. Heard any warnings out there that you want our reaction to? Did somebody say something about getting into bschool recently that you thought, “Huh, I wonder if that’s true”? If so, hit us up in the comments and we’ll give you the EssaySnark perspective! One reason we originally launched this here blahg was because of all the misinformation we saw bouncing around the internet, and we’re always open to a discussion of cases when X or Y might be true. Let us know what you’re wondering about and we’ll try to help out!
“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to become extraordinary.”
“Everyone starts strong. Success comes to those with unwavering commitment to be at the end.”
– Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks