As we started yesterday, in the category of “Oh crap! How did this happen?!??” aka Yes, Round 1 is here! Here’s the thing: Regardless of how awesome your profile may be, you should still have a balanced strategy if you’re committed to sitting in a bschool classroom next Fall. That means including a less-competitive school…
We know some of you are seriously stressing out right now. You had every intention of making Round 1 happen, and yet Real Life conspired, and now you’re not where you had planned to be. Should you just plan to take advantage of Round 2 instead? This is a legit question!! And it completely depends…
If you’ve submitted to one or even two schools now (Darden also had a deadline this week, and we know a bunch of BSers who’ve submitted to Columbia, and also to INSEAD, earlier this summer), then we issue you a heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS! It’s so tough to get that first one done, and you deserve a huge pat on the back if you managed to pull off an application to any school already. Hitting that “submit” button can be a scary step to take! It may fill you with excitement, but also nervousness, and perhaps a little dread. Your fate is now sealed – it’s in the adcom’s hands!
So what can you expect from here?
Thankfully (or not) with HBS, the wait actually won’t be that long. If you’re like most, you’ll be slammed with other apps through the rest of this month, and then not too far into October you’ll know if you’re moving forward or not at Harvard. Chad Lossee will likely be announcing the actual schedule of interview invitations on the HBS Directors blog soon; if it follows patterns of recent years, it’ll be a couple days of stress in the first week of October. And then you will know. Our Harvard info page captures the general outlines of what to expect.
We do have to issue some unfortunate warnings about the Harvard process especially. Here’s where we lay out the major problem with the way HBS manages admissions and how it can totally mess with your head.
The tl;dr of it is, you’re going to find out if you’re (not) moving forward at Harvard really soon.
For most people, that’s going to be in the “not” category. It’s just how it goes.
And, it can throw you for a loop and make you feel like a total loser. (Just go read the whole post where we lament in full.)
What you have to focus on right now is: Take all the learnings that you have wrought out of your completion of that first application, and stay motivated. You’re going to roll straight into essay writing for your second application.
Just because you know some of your stories now, and have a better handle of how to write an essay in answer to these questions, you will resist the urge to copy and paste. There are very very few schools where you can reuse much of your content (we have pointed out the ones that have commonalities to be exploited here!).
Oh hey here’s a Pro Tip:
[paywall starts here – if you’re reading this, then you are missing out! you may sign up for a membership to the essaysnark blahg quickly and easily here!] [end restricted members-only content]
No matter what: Be proud that you got your first application done! That’s a massive achievement unto itself. Now use this momentum you’ve built up, and no coasting. Don’t take any breaks. You can sleep in October, when all of this is done. Keep moving forward, BSer — that’s how you conquer the next hill!!
You may also be interested in:
Have you seen any of these Fyre Festival documentaries? Pretty incredible, how all of it went down. The entrepreneur dude who tried to pull it off is called a pathological liar. The most incredible part of all is, even after he got prosecuted by the FBI, he launched a totally new swindling scheme. Apparently his moral compass is calibrated a bit differently than our own.
These tales tend to be rife with irony.
Take the case of a journalist or nonfiction author who plagiarized and fabricates. Every so often we hear of such a case. A big incident happened in 2012 when science writer Jonah Lehrer’s books were pulled. It was discovered that he even made up Dylan quotes for his articles. He admits that his acts “caused deep pain” and he says he did it out of “arrogance”, “a willingness to take shortcuts” and “carelessness” — all reasons why we detest plagiarism. (The big irony of course is that those candid comments came from him during a speech he was paid $20k to give talking about decision-making.)
It’s really easy to get a certain smugness when sitting outside of the circle where such a thing happened. It’s easy to look with an eye of disdain upon the participants in the Fyre Festival fiasco. How could someone do that? How could you be so naive? Why didn’t you say something? How come you didn’t blow the whistle?
The thing is, it’s easy to get sucked in. You get a charismatic enthusiastic charmer and you can get swept away with an idea that, if you stepped back and gave it some distance, or put on your thinking hat, you’d easily recognize it wasn’t so brilliant.
Like all the nonsense with that elite colleges admissions scandal.
So today’s post is a reminder to poke your head out of the morass that it’s mired in, and make sure you’re keeping things on the straight and narrow.
(You’d think we were some type of morals-and-philosophy blog, the amount of time we spend on this stuff. But honestly, in the modern era of The World is On Fire!! we feel that it’s important to be public about these, well, important things.)
So here goes:
When you fill out your MBA applications, telling the truth is important.
Seems obvious — too obvious to even have to say it. But that’s how poor decisions are made.
It’s not that we expect BSers who come to the EssaySnark blahg will be trying to bribe admissions officers or sports teams to get in.
It’s more insidious than that.
You get some idea that you need to show the adcoms that you’re a really impressive candidate so you start making up career goals that you think “sound good” — like, you want to be a some CEO at some big corporation some day.
That’s not exactly a lie, since anybody can say anything about what they want to do in the future, and who knows, maybe you legitimately are aiming high. That’s not going to keep you out of bschool if everything else lines up well and you convince the adcoms about what you’ve done in the past that sets you a part. (Most schools really don’t want such long-term and lofty visions for a career goals statement, but that’s not the main point we’re trying to make today.)
Where things can get slippery is where you get a little creative with the facts of your past.
Maybe you tried to start some type of do-gooder organization at some point. You got together with a few friends and put the basic sketch of a plan together where you would launch a non-profit to raise money for underprivileged kids to pay for their school fees. A noble cause for sure! You had the best of intentions. But after about six months there was some disagreements with your buddies, and one of them took a new job and suddenly had no free time to devote to the project any longer, and you hit some walls in trying to get started. Nobody wanted to give you more than a few bucks. It was harder than you expected. The shine of the fresh idea started to wear and it became work instead of fun, and then it languished by the wayside of your life, and suffered the slow demise of yet another abandoned initiative. It still exists for you in concept, and it was something you always intended to go back to and revive, and make real, but you know it’s not a real thing that actually went anywhere.
Yet in your MBA apps, you have a section of your resume about it with dates coming into the present day, and in an essay you talk about this NGO that you started. You kinda sorta fail to mention that it floundered and never got off the ground.
You really need to be telling the truth in your apps.
You realize that schools do background checks, right?
You don’t need to inflate your history — and it could easily backfire on you if you do.
Same deal with massaging the dates of employment to try and cover up a gap, maybe because you were laid off and are embarrassed about it. Or that you feel you don’t make enough money, so you round up (significantly). Or you’ve heard that it’s possible to make too much money and you don’t want that to keep you out of school.
You don’t need to lie to get into bschool. Really truly you don’t.
Yes the process of constructing your messaging in the applications requires some careful planning, and there’s an art to choosing what to say and definitely also how to say it. That’s part of what we mean when we say that you need to construct a pitch — it’s messaging and it’s being selective in what you share and the way you present it. (Pro Tip: This is why a) you need to plan for multiple drafts of every single essay, and b) getting the help of a qualified reviewer who knows how to pitch to a top MBA adcom is critical.)
If you’re talking to an admissions consultant who advises you to go ahead and apply to Columbia Early Decision as an “insurance policy” even if Columbia isn’t your first choice, then please consider carefully the ethics that this person is demonstrating. Just because an admissions consultant tells you it’s OK does not make it OK. Don’t leave your own morals outside the door when you enter into an agreement with any type of coach or advisor.
We believe in karma — to the extent that each and every decision you make affects you. You are the only person who has to live in your skin, inhabiting your life experience. Every time you cut corners or fudge the truth even just a little it decays your core. It takes the shine off your being. Do this often enough and you’ll end up a nasty person without even realizing how you got there. Maybe all that matters to you is your own success in whatever external way you’re defining it. But we would suggest that that’s not the recipe for true happiness in this life.
One of the best ways to make a crappy set of essays is to write what you think the schools want to hear. This post is not about that. Instead, this is a follow-on to our previous post about theme. If you want to figure out how to position yourself in the best light possible…
If you’ve done even two seconds of research into applying to business school, you’ve encountered the assurance from the admissions teams that they do a “holistic review” of your application. What does that even mean, and what should you do about it? You’re probably well aware that “holistic” just means “whole,” as in, they look…
DISCLAIMER: This post is not trying to tell you that you can reuse your essays from one school to another! Because really, you can’t. Even if the essay prompt is nearly exactly the same — which, this year, there’s at least one pair of schools where this is true — even when the questions are…
OK, picking up the discussion of reapplicant strategy from yesterday (which was mostly focused on HBS/Stanford reapplicants): For a school like Yale, they typically review the prior-year app in tandem with this year. Same with MIT, and Columbia, and many others. In that case, then an obvious improvement in a metric like GMAT score is…
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…
The whole notion of ‘theme’ in MBA applications is a slippery one – and frankly, it’s not something you need to actively worry about too much. Not that active worrying ever accomplished anything, anyway. Getting a handle on what theme is can help you know what you’re aiming for, but we don’t propose that you…