Q: What does your college GPA tell the admissions committee? A: If you’re willing to play the game. Q: Why does it matter if you’re willing to play the game? A: Because by applying to bschool, you’re saying that you want to play the game MORE. “What on earth are you talking about, EssaySnark?” Here’s…
Giving advice on MBA admissions applications is not a time to be political.
Besides using some political events as teaching moments here on the blahg, to cover something important in an aspect of applying to bschool — anyone remember when we quizzed you on what the word Brexit means, way back in January 2016 when nobody had heard of it (at least, outside the UK) and the election had not happened?? — we have managed to mostly steer clear of politics and current events here and on our Twitter. Encouraging you to register to vote is not being political, it’s encouraging you to be an adult, and to not take your rights for granted. In this crazy f’ed up world that we’re living in in America, EssaySnark presumes that you’re seeing through the lies and deceit and gaslighting that’s going on from the top down of our government.
But maybe you’re not.
After all, we’re significant numbers of years older than you, and we didn’t always have an awareness or ability to evaluate such things. How do you know what to believe? We had to learn this stuff, too.
This is in the category of critical thinking skills, which some universities try to teach but it’s a tough thing to get across — unless the stakes are high and real decisions are at risk.
We were dismayed to hear of a recent study where Americans were asked to identify if a statement was a fact or an opinion. Many Americans failed this simple test. Thankfully, there is hope: Millennials and Gen Z did much better as a group. Older Americans? Not so much.
Because this topic is so timely and interesting — and because we love quizzes and tests (just not the GMAT, please and thank you) — we’ll offer up some of these statements for you to test yourself and see how savvy you are.
Identify each of these as a FACT or an OPINION
Government is almost always wasteful and inefficient.
Democracy is the greatest form of government.
Immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally are a very big problem for the country today.
Former President Barack Obama was born in the United States.
Spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid make up the largest portion of the U.S. federal budget.
Socialism is a failed experiment.
Health care costs per person in the U.S. are the highest in the developed world.
Abortion should be legal in most cases.
Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is essential for the health of the U.S. economy.
Immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally have some rights under the Constitution.
ISIS lost a significant portion of its territory in Iraq and Syria in 2017.
Terrorism is the biggest threat to our country.
Finally, if you did in fact register to vote recently and now you’re wondering “What do I vote for???” we have some quick advice:
Find a source that you trust, whose values align with yours, and use their recommendations.
These sources are easily available once you know what to look for. For example, here’s a list of a few such voter guides (EssaySnark is not endorsing or recommending any of this – it’s just a list of samples):
- Christian Voter Guide
- League of Women Voters Vote 411
- American Conservative Union
- American Civil Liberties Union – Vote Smart Justice
You’ll need one that’s local, at least to your state, so that includes the ballot measures that actually matter for you. It’s not just about the national offices. Your local newspaper is probably publishing a voter’s guide — but just make sure you’re aware of the ownership of that paper or other media outlet, and that owner’s agenda, before adopting their views. A lot of the newspapers in the U.S. are now owned by those with vested interests and specific beliefs and biases, and these sometimes (actually, increasingly often) are revealed by their voter recommendations. The Tribune Company which owns a bunch of newspapers, and Fox Media which you know from TV, are owned by conservatives; The Washington Post and Time Magazine are owned by liberals. Journalism is supposedly about reporting the facts but as you are likely well aware, everything comes with a slant based on perception and values. An ethical news organization will report the news straight, doing everything they can to remove bias from the reporting and not kowtowing to influence or ownership, but there’s never “pure” news, and even the well-intentioned ones screw it up royally on a regular basis.
What in our opinion is less helpful are the neutral or generic guides that are only trying to explain the issues. While they may be valid, and we tip our hats to the intention of wanting people to decide for themselves, in our experience they’re just too neutral. Because every ballot initiative can be argued multiple ways, and if, for example, it’s an initiative that will raise taxes, and this group says that that’s bad, and the tax revenue that comes in will only be misused, but that group says that that’s good, and necessary, because it’s a problem that needs to be solved…. well, it’s totally likely that you’ll see the value of both of those arguments. That’s why we prefer to outsource (at least some) of this decision-making to smart people who have a mindset like ours, who’ve spent the time investigating and who we trust to give good advice.
That’s not to say that we would only vote a certain way just because some third-party source is advising it. But for us, it’s a time-saver, and as long as (key point!) you trust the third party, then you should be able to trust their recommendations.
But this again is where our main point comes in: Please be a thinker.
Be a smart consumer of the news.
Know how to tell fact from fiction — and fact from opinion.
Figure things out for yourself, or if you don’t have time to dive into the nitty-gritty of all of those details, figure out who you trust to figure things out.
But spend the necessary time figuring them out, and then act.
Vote intelligently. Or if you can’t commit to that, then at least vote!!! Your vote gives you the right to complain later. 🙂
And use these skills of intelligence and thinking before you forward or like or retweet some tidbit you saw on the internet. Don’t make falsehoods go viral, please. Investigate. Use your discrimination. Don’t be part of the problem. When everyone is acting stupid, it only takes one person not doing that to make it so not everyone is doing it. Act that way, and we will all have a chance to be better.
If you want an interesting analysis of the techniques used by this current administration, Trevor Noah has some thought-provoking insights.
There’s nothing worse than someone telling you you have a shot at a top school and then not even getting the interview. It can REALLY tick you off.
And understandably so!
After all, that’s what you PAID THEM for!
MBA admissions lacks so much transparency and having a so-called expert help you focus your efforts can be a massive benefit.
Unless of course, they’re wrong.
If you’re working with someone who does not have a depth of experience to truly assess YOUR profile against the schools you’re in love with, then they can be doing more damage than good.
We’ve made our share of bad calls before, notably this one that we posted about publicly. We’ve never gotten it that wrong before or since. That was a learning experience for sure.
This is one reason why our Comprehensive Profile Review will tell you which schools are in range for you — but with a gazillion caveats, reminding you that it’s the execution that will be the determining factor. If your core stats and the essential background you are presenting shows you as QUALIFIED for a top MBA program, it’s still up to you to put the application together in a way that makes the admissions reviewer say “Yes!”
You may remember from some long-ago science class that a false negative is when a test comes back as a “no” when it’s actually a “yes” — and when you’re testing for infectious diseases, then this is a problem! If a test says “No, you do not have cancer” but really you do, then that’s bad.
A false positive is when the test says “Uh-oh you do have it!” but you actually don’t.
In medicine, that’s not necessarily so bad — the main issue being of course that you’re subject to treatment that you don’t really need, and sometimes the treatment is damaging.
But in this case, a false positive would be, “Oh yes, you definitely have a shot at Harvard!!” when actually, you don’t.
Man, that one hurts, when October comes around.
In medicine, a false negative is a major problem, particularly if it’s an infectious disease. A false negative says “You’re healthy!” when actually you might be walking around spreading it to others.
In MBA apps, a false negative is something you will never, ever know about because if you believe your consultant and trust in him, and he says “Nope, not a chance, don’t even bother” and so you never apply…. and if they were WRONG….. nobody ever will know. If your consultant says “Sorry, I don’t see Harvard as being a fit” and you don’t try for Harvard, then dang. That’s a lot of “What ifs.”
More often, we see consultants being unrealistically optimistic, sometimes this may be intentional, but probably in most cases it’s because they have an unconscious bias: If they’re talking to you FOR FREE during a pitch for their services, then a) they’re usually looking at very limited information, often only GMAT and GPA and maybe the resume; and b) they’re trying to get you to sign up with them. Even if they are authentically wanting to only provide value to you as a person and are not fixated on making a sale, it is only human nature that they are trying to make a sale. It’s really hard (impossible?) to set that aside. And it’s also really hard to be speaking to someone on the phone and telling them, “Nope, you’re crap, nobody is going to want to admit you.”
This is why EssaySnark does not do free consults as part of a pre-sales process, and it’s why we do everything in writing.
It is much much easier to be honest and forthcoming when we can type it out on a screen and deliver the news. It’s just hard to shatter someone’s hopes in Real Life one-on-one conversation. Yes, good consultants find a way to say this but sometimes it’s couched in so many platitudes that the message is not heard.
And very often, a consultant who is working closely with a candidate over many weeks or months gets to the end of the process with them and is looking at the final product of the essays that they have created together with the applicant (because many consultants get their fingers very deep into the pie) and they have lost objectivity. They see how far the client progressed from the beginning and yes, the final drafts are better, but maybe they’re still not good enough? And they’ve been subject to how many rounds of review? The consultant is tired. They just want the project to be done with. They sign off on the essays with a note of confidence, and the client submits an app that still has no chance at all. But whether the consultant consciously knows this or not, they have tacitly given their approval and rubber-stamped it, so the client/applicant thinks they have a real shot. After all, there was a tremendous amount of WORK involved – they MUST be good essays by now!!
Or so the thinking goes.
And yes, this is a self-serving post, and here is where we plug our Sanity Check review that gives you our unbiased opinion of whether your application has come together in a way that this school will respond to.
And if you’re still on the hunt for a consultant, we have posted many times before about what to look for, and what to be cautious about.
Your consultant needs to have experience with the tier of school that you’re targeting — with the understanding that someone who is truly HBS material is likely going to make it into HBS with or without a consultant!! There are absolutely cases where the consultant helped someone who is borderline get tipped over into the HBS pool, but there are many consultants who managed to only not hurt the applicant’s chances. The applicant was going to get in, regardless, and the consultant perhaps helped them with polish and presentation.
Your consultant also needs to have extensive experience with the type of applicant you are. If your consultant has never worked with military candidates, or has only done so here or there, then honestly, how much help can they offer? Particularly when this segment of the applicant population has been booming and the competition has ratcheted up.
If your consultant has never helped someone with a really low GPA make it into a school like Columbia or Duke or Kellogg, how much help can they be if that’s the challenge you’re facing?
These are the questions you need to ask.
And yes, obviously we’ve helped people in your shoes before — regardless of what shoes you’re wearing! We’ve been doing this practically for-ev-er and we have high confidence that we’ve seen a profile EXACTLY like yours before. Whatever uniqueness you bring or challenges you offer. You can find out in our Comprehensive Profile Review, or if you just want a confirmation before you dive in with even the most basic service, hit us up with a question about your profile and how you’re so special and we will let you know yay or nay if we’ve never seen one like you before (who got in! as a result of our efforts).
Every year we get comments like this after doing a final-hour essay review for someone:
Lastly, I know you probably still feel this is a polished turd, but considering I submit tomorrow please help me get to the best product I can in the next 18 hours. (I fired my consultant because I’ve had this essay done for a month and he loved it).
Obviously that BSer sensed that perhaps something was off on the essay they’d created, enough to seek out a second opinion — but not everyone has that premonition.
Even more often, we get people sign up for our Post-Mortem Review at the end of November after their previous consultant told them they were a shoe-in, and they got nowhere on all of Round 1.
So yeah, this is a self-serving post — but honestly, we want all of you to be successful!! You found your way over to EssaySnark by some turn of fate and we feel very invested in helping you get in. We shoot straight. We keep it real. We offer feedback and advice to help you aim higher when warranted, and tools to support you in climbing. We want you to get into the best school you can!
If there’s more we can do, please ask!
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You say you want an MBA, and we believe you.
But do you want an education?
Do you even know what they’ll teach you in the hallowed halls of Columbia or Kellogg or Cornell or whatever school you end up at?
You’ve read through the website enough to plug the name of a class into an essay to tell the adcom how much you want to go there.
But do you know what any of those classes are actually about?
Here’s a tip:
If you don’t, you may want to start learning!
Because if you make it through this arduous process and you land an admit or two, and you end up with your butt sitting in a business school classroom 11 short months from now…
Do you know what you’re in for?
We can guarantee you this:
If you’re only interested in bschool so that you can get the credential, so that you can have those three little letters “M-B-A” associated with your name, so you can get some plum job with a six-figure salary where you get to sit in meetings all day….
That’s fine, it’s not “wrong” and there are plenty of good people who think that way.
If that’s your entire motivation and you have not thought through the whole possible scenario that involves things like studying and learning and hard subjects and tests then what you’re setting yourself up for is two years of h3ll.
Or at least, a solid one semester, and parts of another, and then a summer break in between where at least you’ll have an income again, and then another year of school that’s mostly electives and so shouldn’t be that bad…
But if you go into this only focused on that end result of having the fancy initials after your name (which honestly aren’t that impressive, you just are enamored of them now) and you forget the part about it being a CLASSROOM and maybe they even will force you to buy BOOKS though maybe not because these days books are overrated but who knows, and then you find yourself in a year sitting there staring at an equation on a white board and not understanding a single word that the professor has said in the last 20 minutes and wishing you actually had taken that class that you told EssaySnark yes you were going to take but hey you got in anyway so must not’ve needed it! Except that there’s all those Greek symbols on the board and you can’t remember which one means what.
And you’re not there because you WANT TO LEARN SOMETHING and expand your mind and get smarter and learn how the money supply is a lever of government and how interest rates work with inflation or what dual-entry accounting means and why it should matter or what the time value of money is and how it affects decisions and and and and and and and
If you’re unable to get motivated to push past the hard part of “OH HOLY F NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE WHAT HAVE I **DONE** I HATE THIS LET ME OUT” and actually do the WORK of learning…
You’re gonna have a rough go of it.
All we’re saying today is that sitting on the “before” side of the picture where you’ve got this dream and you’re fixated on winning and it’s all you can think about and you’ve already done all this work and the GMAT is over and some essays were written and you clicked Submit on a number of apps…
And all the schools hype up their international travel and the culture and community and happy hour and how much FUN!! everyone has…
If you don’t find a way to get motivated on THE LEARNING as well then, well, we just don’t think it’s gonna be what it could be.
It takes a certain level of maturity to embrace learning for the sake of learning alone. Not all subjects are fun, and not all professors are interesting. Doing school full-time is a massive opportunity and what a luxury and an advantage, and a privilege to even have a quality of life that you can be considering it. You’re taking a break from Real Life for two full years to go focus on building yourself.
It’s not just the job and all the recruiters that will want you. It’s not just living in some fun new city for two years. It’s all of those things, but it’s none of them.
It’s what are you going to put into it?
That’s what you will get out of it.
And in order to know that, and be truly prepared, you need to know WHY you are doing this.
Is it just to coast through so you can get rubber-stamped and spit out the other side?
Or is it to LEARN STUFF?
We’ll tell you, LEARNING STUFF is hard. You’ve been out of school for awhile — and this is graduate school. This is no Intro to Econ or whatever.
Do you want to do it because you’re actually interested?
If you can’t say you’re interested, that’s okay too, but can you still motivate yourself even if you’re not?
If the answers to these questions are “Hmm” or “Never thought about it” or “Now that you ask…” then you may want to do some self-reflection. Be ready for what you’re pursuing.
Maybe even start by taking a class now. Like a practice one. To get in the groove, to remind you.
Were you someone who loved school so much that you were able to self-motivate for the thrill of it? The achievement of a good score on a test could make you hit the books like you needed?
Or was each class like pulling teeth and you were the clock-watcher scrunched down in your chair at the back of the room, praying you wouldn’t get cold-called?
Just be honest with yourself.
If you haven’t been in school for awhile, look to Coursera or some other MOOC to get back in the swing of things. Find a way to challenge yourself, if that’s not a habit you’ve had just lately.
Remember that what you experience in school (as in life) depends at least the orientation and attitude. It’s not just about showing up. It’s about doing the work.
When learning switches on it’s totally awesome and you get fired up, even if it’s a subject you don’t like. And when it’s resisted and you’re trying to just get by then it can be a nightmare of days. Either is your choice.
Just remember what you’re signing up for.
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We recently went over some trends in admissions as revealed by the Class of 2020 profiles being released by the top American MBA programs and we gave some cautions and lookouts for international vs U.S. candidates. And we’ve been fielding questions from some concerned BSers as a result, among them: If the competition is getting…
This is gunna come too late for many of you — or maybe not.
Today we’re gunna talk about Stanford and every other “reach” school — but especially Stanford. And oh yeah, every other reach school. And probably every school you apply to that is competitive.
So we’re talking about everything.
The not-helpful advice for today is, You have to show up for this.
Phoning it in on your apps will not work.
That’s especially true for Stanford because of what they need to see.
You know how you were planning on talking about Touchy-Feely in Stanford Essay B?
Yeah, you and the other 8,171 people applying.
The very basic techniques that you’ve heard about telling the adcom stuff that you like about their school simply aren’t enough for a school like Stanford.
If you use that standard technique to mention Touchy-Feely for Stanford Essay B, then you a) need to know what Touchy-Feely is really about, and b) your Stanford Essay A better be showing some touchyfeelz*.
And the only way to do THAT is to a) take the time and b) be willing to dig deep.
Superficial answers are not going to cut it at Stanford.
If you’re sitting here now wondering, “Well shoot. EssaySnark just last week said I have to do the work or I’m not gunna have a chance. I know I haven’t done the work. I also know that Round 1 is an advantage for a school like Stanford. But if I haven’t done the work, I should just put it off till Round 2. Right?”
Sitting here today, when the clock is counting down to a deadline in a few days, then you’ve probably already made the decision for your Hail Mary or not. But if you haven’t, and had decided to go for Round 2 instead, then we hafta warn you:
Every year we work with at least a small handful of BSers in your shoes who recognize that they were phoning it in up to this point, that they hadn’t buckled down to actually focus on the hard work of figuring out this essay stuff. So they decide to punt. Round 2 it is.
And then what happens is, come middle of December, they suddenly wake up like a bear being roused from its winter’s nap too early, and they look around with blinking eyes and they’re all, “How did that happen? How did we get to December already?”
And then they futz around for another week, with even more easily-justifiable excuses like holiday parties and Christmas shopping, and then it’s time for eggnog and Rudolph and they still haven’t managed to write any essays.
So if in your heart of hearts, you know that that’s you…. Please do not punt till Round 2. Please just revert to your college days and do an all-nighter tonight.
Because if you’re gonna end up cutting corners and doing a mad dash at last minute craziness full of adrenaline and panic, you’d be in a better position to do it NOW when you do in fact have Round 1 shining its smile on you. It’s way better to do a half-a$$ed application in the earliest round when you’re competing against far fewer other half-a$$ed-ers. You’ll be just one of many half-a$$ed-ers in Round 2, whereas now, you’ll be more in the minority. Way better to stand out against a smaller pool of half-a$$ed-ers than to drown in the midst of them and not even get noticed at all in Round 2.
Or, maybe today’s post is not for you at all. Maybe you’re one who realized in August that “OMG IT’S AUGUST! ROUND 1 IS COMING!” and while it would’ve been better to have that realization in June, it’s still a valuable realization to have had then. And you got cranking on some essays, and maybe you sent them in to EssaySnark who said, “Nope, this ain’t it,” and you cried, and pouted, and cursed at us for awhile. And then you got to work. And when we saw your next drafts and said, “Huzzah! Yes! You’ve done it!” then you wrote back something like this that a real-life Brave Supplicant shared recently:
I am glad you like Essay A. After reading your initial comments, I realized [something specific to their Stanford essay topic]. Your advice allowed me to be authentic. Now I understood what it means to be authentic. It was a valuable lesson if it were not for Stanford application.
This process of introspection and digging deep really is not that much fun when you start. But when you get into it, and you keep digging, then often it becomes…. almost exciting. There’s something magical that happens when the pieces click together and you start to understand. When that magic happens, it’s vivid and visceral and very much detectable on the page of your essay.
Maybe you can get there in a furious mad-dash of writing tonight.
Or maybe this post inspires you to step back and decide that yes, you can do this introspection thing, and you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and put in the time, and you know that Round 1 is useful but a stronger app in Round 2 is way better. And you start to work on that Round 2 application NOW and you keep working on it every day from today until it’s finished. And maybe that’s in two or three weeks, and you’ll have that app ready to roll in October. Or maybe it’s still not ready until almost the actual deadline in January. But you work it constantly, refining and thinking and being willing to throw it all away again and start over if necessary.
You decide to show up.
That can happen now, or next week, or not at all. But if you’re serious about schools like the Stanford GSB, it’s almost a 100% rule that it’ll have to happen at some point, if you’re gunna develop the quality of materials that the adcom will say yes to.
*Like, not literally. Your Stanford Essay A need not be about some kind of fraught emotional or distressing topic. But it needs to RESONATE. It needs to be real. Maybe we shoulda said that it has to be showing some touchyrealz.
EssaySnark spends very little time on social media and we were reminded of why this is when we stirred up a hornet’s nest yesterday among, of all people, college professors. After seeing their responses to our tweet we are very happy that you Millennials are making your way through the workforce and will one day soon be in charge.
Because the attitudes of these professor-people got us royally depressed.
Any admissions folks out there who happen to click onto EssaySnark, we hope you’ll share this with your faculty — or at least use it as a point of conversation.
Or maybe we’re totally off base in which case we hope that people will use rational arguments to show us the light.
Here’s where it started – we’re recreating the exchange in this post because some of the tweets have been deleted. The original thread is here .
1. A College Professor account retweeted another professor’s tweet that retweeted this — this is from a student:
What the student was complaining about, in case it’s not clear, is that she spent time trying to make her request to her professor politely, and (EssaySnark imagines) she felt somewhat dismissed by the response. You can see from her subsequent tweet here that she was just making a joke. It’s not that big of a deal — but apparently us calling out the professors about it is!!!!
We’re extrapolating here but: A two-word reply to a carefully-crafted email has a way of making the recipient feel like the effort they put in was not worth it. (The “sent by iPhone” thing became an unfortunate distraction; this isn’t about replying by iPhone, it’s literally what the reply was. This happens just as much through Outlook or gmail or whatever.) The professor’s reply wasn’t rude; it just wasn’t thoughtful. It did not demonstrate respect for the student. There was no malice, but it also was unnecessarily terse.
It’s kind of like when you’re out at a restaurant and the waitress comes to take your order and you read what you want off the menu then put the menu aside and go back to talking to your friend, without making eye contact or saying “thank you” to the waitress. It’s the same sort of behavior. It’s purely transactional, it’s here’s an answer to your question now go away behavior.
It’s particularly ironic when so many professors on twitter complain about their careless, thoughtless, frivolous, ungrateful students who have unreasonable expectations.
2. Naively, EssaySnark replied saying we’re on the student’s side:
Because Earth to Professors: You’re working with kids! You’re supposed to be the adult in the room!
And OMG did this thing blow up (at least, as far as the tiny little insignificant slice of the universe where college professors complaining about their students dwell!).
We foolishly replied back to a bunch more but it was distressing to see how far afield the debate got flung within mere moments, and also how flawed the reasoning was from so many of these professors (and how some of them chose to take our generalized statements very personally as if we were attacking them on how they interact with their students — um, no?).
This is why we decided that we needed to post.
“My time is more valuable”?????
And then this…
And finally, let’s just all take our toys and go home why don’t we:
Dang we’re bothered by this, not because we think this twitter-professor-person would actually do that, but at the reaction.
We point out that being polite and treating students as equals is good behavior, and this is how they respond?
The claim that “my time is more valuable” is ridiculous. No wonder you’re all bent out of shape about your students emailing you. How dare they! You are a very important person!! “DYKWIA??????”
If these are the prevailing attitudes among professors then there are major problems within the culture in colleges in America.
All the bschools we’ve ever experienced are very, very focused on culture. Apparently that’s not universal in higher ed. Certainly the student population in MBA programs is older, they’ve been out in the world, they’re at a different place in life, presumably they won’t be making frivolous requests or wasting professors’ time. Like, apparently, asking for an appointment to meet, like the student did who started all this. The nerve!! But hey, folks, college kids are people too! Perhaps part of this is that college students today are younger, and/or many times have unrealistic expectations or demands or need more hand-holding, or are just in a different place and mindset than the aging faculty who are teaching them. That whole generation gap thing, and this is how it manifested yesterday on social media.
Or perhaps it’s as the Dalia Lama has said, that compassion is only felt between equals.
But we sincerely hope that grumpy professors do some soul-searching around what their mission in life is and who they seek to serve, and how they might do that. Aren’t you a teacher because you want to teach? Yeah we get it, lots of demands, maybe you really want to be doing research. Or maybe it was just a bad morning.
This terse-email-reply thing is not important. It appears to be a symptom though.
Here’s our hope for all of you:
As you progress in your career and assume positions of greater power, please don’t also assume an attitude of superiority. Yes, professors are busy, as are senior managers in a firm. Yes, as someone who works under that person, you should be respectful of their time, and not send unnecessary emails, or whatever.
But no matter what!!! NO MATTER WHAT!!! When you are in a position of power, it is YOUR DUTY to earn people’s respect every day. You do not get to be flippant or rude or dismissive just because you’re earning a high salary. If someone calls attention to something you’re doing that others might interpret this way, then a better reaction, instead of getting defensive and petty, would be to please stop and examine it and question maybe the way you’re coming off is not ideal. THAT MAYBE OTHERS HAVE FEELINGS and that the way those in power interact with them does matter. It does matter.
Oh we’re so bothered by this.
While we’re on this rant, from the ‘snarchive for those writing essays: If you are human, you do not have underlings.
We soon realized the error of our ways in responding to something on twitter and backed out:
No wonder we're so screwed up in America. We're still arguing **about the EMAILS!!**
Have fun over there you guys.
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) June 28, 2018
We’re still getting notifications of dozens and dozens of replies so if you’re looking for a drive-by experience, go ahead and click over to those threads. We’re not participating anymore. Apparently we can’t take the heat in the kitchen.
This was an unplanned post today. Thank you for reading to the end. For MBA applicants, perhaps this can gain insight into possible topics for your essays for schools that care about teamwork and interpersonal skills and being NICE (thank you Tuck!). Interpersonal interactions MATTER.
Where did you encounter an unpleasant situation? How did you turn it around? Or if you failed to do so, as EssaySnark clearly did, how did you navigate through thereafter, what action did you take if any to try to make change to the system, or at minimum what did you do to channel your own feelings of frustration?
What small injustice in the world have you helped to right*?
The stories you tell in your MBA essays need not always be these huge massive gold-ribbon accomplishments. Sometimes a very small incident can lead you into a fascinating topic that the adcoms (at certain schools) would be eager to have you discuss. What goes on in your workplace that you thought was wrong, and how did you change it?
To wrap up our soapbox diatribe today, this is what we were proposing be done in the situation of the original student’s emails – it’s not difficult:
We're talking 2 secs! Instead of "Sure, 9:00" you write Hi Student! Sure, that works great, how about 9:00? Thanks, see you then! Prof. X" You're not writing them War and Peace as your reply.
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) June 28, 2018
It’s simple recognition that it’s a PERSON on the other end of your inbox.
It’s something that you can start to adopt into your email practices today.
*Not trying to imply that we did any righting of wrongs or fixing of injustices in the world with our tweet; if anything, our calls for politeness got voted down by the mob. The “right a wrong” thing is to prompt you to do some further thinking!! And also to examine your own values. Maybe EssaySnark is off on all of this, maybe a professor’s time is more valuable and should be protected!! Clearly we don’t think so but if you have a different view then find out what it is, and use that as your investigation into your own character and behavior and mine all of that for your essays!! This is what they mean when they say that essays require self-reflection. You start in on a topic and you think about how you feel on it, and what ways you’ve acted, and what examples from your life are related. Presenting evidence of your own behavior is how you demonstrate your character to the adcom in whatever way is relevant to the questions they’re asking.
You may also be interested in:
We’re reblahgging this from last Fall ‘cuz, well, it’s relevant! 😀 And no, that does not mean this post is about YOU — we are not publishing this now in response to working with any particular BSer. It’s just an overall appropriate topic, ya know? What’s particularly useful is to read the comments that BSers last year offered (after you’ve read the post) — those can be incredibly instructive for you sitting here with the advantage of the full season ahead of you.
There are only three types of BSers:
- The ones who are H/S/W or Bust. These people are aiming for, err, H, S, and W. Only.
- The ones who are “I’ll go anywhere.” These people are not so much aiming, as papering the country.
- Everybody else. These people are aiming for Top 10.
Almost everyone in Category #1 is a first-time applicant.
Almost everyone in Category #2 is a reapplicant. Usually their first time they were in Category 3.
Those in Category #1 tend to be the BSierest of all BSers.
They also tend to be the worst procrastinators. Not always, but often, sometimes to the extent where Round 2 is their first and only submit, even though the GMAT was done long ago. This is just what our experience has been in working with this type of applicant.
They also tend to be least likely to succeed in the current era of hypercompetitive MBA admissions.
We have our theories.
One is that they are frequently coming from the elite firms, after attending the elite colleges; they now have nailed a good GMAT score, and they have a recommender who’s a Harvard alum. They think that’s enough.
Sometimes, at Wharton, particularly in Round 1, in fact that can be enough. In Round 2 it’s much less likely to be.
This type of Category 1 BSer maybe will toss out an app to Columbia or Booth along with the other three, to, you know, have a (cough) safety school in the mix. But that’s just a pretend.
Because what frequently happens to this BSer if they only get into their ‘safety’ and not into H/S/W, is that their sense of entitlement kicks into overdrive, and instead of realizing that, gee, maybe you need to WORK FOR IT (as in, ON YOUR ESSAYS, so that you don’t come across as quite such a pr_ck), and maybe that Chicago or Columbia or whichever other school that did say ‘yes’ to them is actually a really really good MBA program as well, that they just scratch it. They turn down the offer. They stick with their current situation in life and they get the sour grapes thing, the attitude that an MBA at some lesser-than school like Columbia* just doesn’t have the ROI so I’m not gonna bother.
In case it’s not clear, this post is for Category #1 folks. 😀
Orrrrrr….. On second thought, maybe it’s not.
It’s not like it really matters if any of you get into a top MBA program. It certainly does not matter to the ‘Snark. (We really really really want a whole bunch of you who we’ve been working with for the past few months to get in, ‘cuz we’ve learned your stories and know a little about you and see that you’re nice guyz and cool girlz and you’ve worked hard and yes we do think you deserve it!!) If none of you make it into any of your target schools this year, it’s not like the earth will fall off its axis or the Universe will collapse in on itself. It’ll be a bummer, but it’s not going to make a massive difference in how your life, or ours, continues to evolve.
Us writing this post today to invite all reading it to examine which category of BSer they are most definitely will not change your fate in this process, and it’s unlikely to get anyone to change.
If anything, it may only serve to piss off the Category #1 folks, where we’ll have some readership drop off, and lose them from the crowd. Instead of prompting any type of soul searching or convincing anyone to not be entitled about their situation in life, a more common reaction to a pushy post like this one is for some to be turned off of the ‘Snark and move on.
In case us talking about these trends and patterns in BSers might get one or two of you to self-reflect on where you’re at, and what attitudes you hold, so that you can either:
- Expand your list of targets
- Start working NOW on your
Round 2 applications – ESPECIALLY if you skipped out on Round 1 completelyRound 1 applications — since this post was reblahgged in June 2018!!!!! Don’t skip Round 1 people!!!!
Well, then we’d consider that a success.
Update for 2018: We do expect this season to be significantly less competitive for international applicants. The U.S. is just not making friends on the global stage, and there will be another drop-off in applications from around the world. This is to your advantage if you’re still seeing the value of an American MBA. HOWEVER, you also need to be conscious about the changing economic climate and the possibility that when you graduate in 2021, a) there could be a massive recession going on which means that international applicants are the first to suffer in U.S. hiring markets, and/or b) there (very slim chance) could be immigration reform that locks out international students; and/or c) the local living situation in certain American geographies will continue to become stridently anti-immigrant and (EXTREMELY slim chance — we hope!!) you may experience outright racist behavior. These things are truly possible and need to be accounted for in your application strategy. What you might do is proceed with your Round 1 apps to your U.S. targets and just take a very cautious approach, and also consider expanding your app strategy to include some non-U.S. schools like Canada or Europe.
Want EssaySnark’s advice on your 2018 situation? We can do a one-off question through our Private Consult or you may benefit from the entire Comprehensive Profile Review process — you can ask about your schools, plans and options in the questionnaire that you submit.
*Yes there are really many BSers who think this!! Obviously we disagree.
You may also be interested in:
- Immediate follow-up to this post: ROI and the MBA
- When your safety school is actually a stretch school
- How valuable is that MBA?
- If the main reason for getting the MBA is financial…
In the world of bschools, leadership has been the byword for at least a couple generations now. Used to be, business school prepared you for management. The first business schools were created in the era of assembly lines and automation and they needed workers who were kind of like cogs in a machine; everybody needed to make sure everything else went smoothly. But then places like Harvard and Wharton and everywhere else elevated their game and said, “No, we need leaders in the world and we’re gonna task ourselves with preparing them.” And that’s been the focus since like the 1950s or so. And then in the 1960s and ’70s there were all these self-actualizing hippies especially out in California and lo and behold, Stanford started pushing personal development and interpersonal skills and all that touchy-feely stuff, and slowly that took hold and now you get empowerment type content at most every school out there. Heck, lots of bschools even teach mindfulness now!
And our new cultural era is about being happy at work. There’s a gazillion books out there, some in the Business aisle, many more in the Self Help section, all telling you how to be happy.
Full disclaimer: EssaySnark loves that stuff. 😉
There’s a Happiness Consultant on twitter (our term not hers) who posted this recently:
It's extremely simple. We deserve to be happy at work. And while leaving your job may not be your first option, perhaps reconsidering how to make the position a better fit for you is. Learn more at https://t.co/aAs7ucKjzE. #HappyAtWork #ProfessionalDevelopment pic.twitter.com/BzunwTff2S
— Annie McKee (@anniemckee) June 5, 2018
And EssaySnark must encourage you, at this important crossroads in your life, as you’re thinking about embarking on this very big adventure to mix things up and create change, and move from the path that you’ve been on, to a totally new path…
We need to remind you that you’re doing all this because on some level you’re not satisfied.
Whether it’s being dissatisfied with the basics like your level of income, or being dissatisfied with the direction you’re on and feeling like you’re stuck, or being wholly miserable because you work for the boss from h3ll and you want a way OUT…
Or maybe you’re so miserable working for that person that you’ve vowed to learn how NOT to be such a terrible manager, and that’s one reason you’re looking for bschool, in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past or inflict such misery upon any other person.
Regardless of the motivations, you’re looking to change.
You’re looking to go for a big jump, to improve your life.
You’re looking to go back to school and learn stuff.
There’s also a possibility that you’re not.
There’s this chance that you’re only interested in the MBA because that’s what everybody else is doing and you figure it’s kind of expected.
Maybe you worked for two or three years in a traditional pre-MBA role in finance or consulting, and it’s a kind of up-or-out environment, and you’re not entirely confident you’re going to get an offer to stay, and even if you did, you know in your gut you don’t really want to, because you can’t stand the place…
Yeah, we’re back to not liking your boss. 😀
Hopefully the “I hate my boss!” feeling is only happening in a small minority of you, since that’s an awful mindstate to be working in and if you’re only starting the process of applying then most likely you’re going to be in that same place for another full year — in which case, we do hope you’ll take steps TODAY to fix the situation! (That’s a post for another time, though we have blahgged about it before, so we’ll try to dig up some reference posts for you to review now…. OK, here’s one semi-related, and this other one at least is coming from the same perspective… Basically if you can’t stand your boss, then there are things you can do to be proactive in making adjustments to how you interact with him or her, and being brave enough to have an honest-to-goodness conversation to find out the core of the issues between you… So that’s the tl;dr of how to deal with and now we don’t have to write another post on it, right?)
The reason for today’s post is it’s important to stay focused on the WHY of this project.
Not just now, as you’re coming up with your fancy schmancy talk about what are your career goals and why do you want an MBA that you’re planning for your maestro essays of brilliance.
We mean, as you go through each step of the process to keep reminding yourself of the WHY.
Part of this means not getting sucked up by the FOMO of bschool, which is often an instant recipe to lose your own core objectives and forget why you’re there.
It means not comparing yourself to everyone, and not going along with the crowd. If you know today you want do pursue ABC goals through the bschool experience, to not get sidetracked into the XYZ things that other people are doing.
It’s fine to change direction and adjust plans, and it’s totally okay if you end up throwing away all original intentions.
Just make sure you’re doing it intentionally, for a reason.
It would SUCK to end up another ten years down the road, looking around at another job that you truly hate, wondering how you got there and what happened to your life.
NOW is this incredible opportunity. You have this energy at your disposal and this interest in change.
Do some reflection. Ask yourself questions. Figure out what’s important to you.
Make adjustments as necessary but don’t sell yourself out as you go through this process.
If you don’t know who you are, start learning!
And don’t settle.
You don’t need to know where you’re going to end up in ten years. You just need to be clear on what you’re doing next, and why.
No, not really.
We spent all this time telling you about which schools we think might change their prompts for their Class of 2021 applications recently. But even when the schools switch up their questions, it rarely signals a change in their strategy for evaluating applicants. There are very infrequently any events that happen that cause admissions teams to do that.
Some reasons for a switch in the schools’ strategies are:
- A change in the applicant population, such as a marked increase in candidates from certain parts of the world
- An economic shock, specifically the financial crisis in 2007-2008 and how it affected the applicant pools (lots of candidates fleeing from finance jobs)
- A cultural shift, such as the growing interest in entrepreneurship among Millennials that we’ve been seeing take hold, concurrent with the hype/glam/esteem around Silicon Valley and the tech industry
- An interest in attracting a specific population, such as the efforts that many business schools have been making in the last decade to recruit more women, or a campaign to attract candidates from a particular part of the world, such as Stanford’s interest in African countries and in the American Midwest
You can contrast these reasons to a change in tactics of evaluating candidates – which is what the actual essay prompts represent. These change in tactics can include:
- New innovations or a change in technology, such as the proliferation of video capture to consumers that allowed Yale to incorporate short video questions into its app, which then prompted them to ditch the TOEFL requirement as redundant and unnecessary
- Lobbying from the test maker and other market forces resulting in a new acceptance policy for additional admissions tests
- Big changes in essay requirements from Harvard Business School in particular
Yes, many schools are very reactive to what other schools are doing – especially when that other school is HBS. The best example of that is when Harvard started reducing the number of essays. In 2011, HBS had four essays. In 2012 they went down to two, which definitely caused other schools to pull back on their essay requirements, out of fear for losing applicants. The fear was, More essays = more work = maybe you won’t bother applying here. The schools don’t want to turn away you happy Brave Supplicants based on (gasp!) forcing you to write more stuff for them. Schools began dropping essays right and left.
Then the very next year, Harvard went down to omg no a single essay of unlimited length and they even said at the time that it was OPTIONAL.
Nobody actually took that bait though; only something like 2 applicants out of the thousands who applied chose not to submit any essay at all (and the adcom actually admitted one of those, if we remember correctly!). Harvard rolled that “optional” thing back the following year, so now the essay is again a required component of the app, but they’ve maintained a similar open-ended-essay philosophy since then.
These changes forced adcoms across America to rethink things. The European schools resisted somewhat; it took a few years before INSEAD and LBS started whacking off essays from their requirements, but they eventually followed suit.
Same thing happened about five years ago with the GRE in MBA admissions – as will be happening, we can easily forecast, with law schools starting literally today (March 8th). Harvard Law School only just announced that they’ll be accepting the GRE instead of the LSAT for admission. Wow. That’s earth-shaking news. Other law schools have dabbled with the idea and they were always criticized for it. The LSAT has been a rite of passage for becoming a lawyer in the U.S. Now you can take the GRE instead? Harvard Law has found that they’re comparable in predicting success in the first year of school. It won’t be long before the GMAT is also accepted along with the GRE for law school admissions, too. After all, lots of universities already accept the GMAT and the GMAT alone for candidates to their JD/MBA programs. And, we can easily see how the GMAC marketing arm will take up the project of getting the GMAT accepted.
The reverse trend happened in bschools not long ago. For ages, it was GMAT only if you want an MBA, and then slowly, some adcoms began accepting the GRE. It took a few admissions cycles, but now there is not a school that we can name that won’t take the GRE in lieu of a GMAT score for applying for a graduate business degree.
Does any of this matter?
No, not really — because all of it is outside your control. These types of changes are happening to all of us (the social/demographic/cultural changes that schools must respond to), and anyway, there’s nothing you can do about the core facts of your demographic makeup. If you’re coming from an oversubscribed candidate pool, all you can do is be the best that you can be and present yourself with clarity and authenticity — but you’re not going to change the fact that there are many others competing for the same limited spots as you. (The one big strategy for YOU as an individual applicant is whether you take the GMAT versus the GRE, and we have lots of posts and plenty of recommendations and cautions for you to explore on that.)
Whether or not the schools change their essay questions really does not matter, unless you particularly enjoy watching EssaySnark make silly predictions about such things and laughing when we end up being wildly off base. If you’re applying to bschool in the coming season, that the school changed the questions does not matter. You’re stuck with the questions that they end up asking in the season you apply.
What you have control over is a) getting ready now by working on your profile and fixing the gaps and weaknesses to the best of your ability, and b) not procrastinating on any piece of the puzzle.