No second person. No third person. Just you. What do we mean by that? 1. Do not address the reader directly in your essay. This is “second person” and it’s when you say something like, “You are always excited when you’re starting something for the first time.” No. The essay is not telling the reader…
Sometimes we give feedback to BSers and we can just see the eye-rolling that it triggers on the receiving end. We get really down into the weeds with you when we’re going through something like a career goals plan or reading an MBA essay. A common example is when someone says something like, “I want…
Recently we laid out two techniques that applicants often use in essays: 1) Talks about how the school they’re applying to is “the best at blah blah” or is “world renowned” or something about how it’s so set apart from its peers 2) Talks about THEMSELVES in similar language, saying that they were the only…
A common technique that we see in MBA essays is when the applicant either: 1) Talks about how the school they’re applying to is “the best at blah blah” or is “world renowned” or “top ranked” or some other sentiment about how it’s so set apart from its peers 2) Talks about THEMSELVES in similar…
This was originally posted on the blahg in December 2016 — but we figured it was worth reblahgging for all you planning on trying for HBS in Round 1 this year… We heard a former Ivy League undergrad admissions person say it point blank: Too-long essays are chucked without being read. As in, they…
We keep seeing really silly typos.
Like, really silly ones.
We’re too busy reading essays right now to go into detail but just let this serve as a warning: Spellcheck is not good enough!
In fact, it’s even worse than that, people. Listen up:
SPELLCHECK IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!
Even that is not fully the truth. It’s this:
SPELLCHECK WILL STEER YOU WRONG!
Spellcheck is like that guy at the bar that says right at closing “Hey let’s have another one it’ll be fine!” when you’re already so loaded you can’t see straight.
Spellcheck says, “Yeah dude I got your keys right here no prob bro!”
Spellcheck is bad, bad news. Don’t rely on spellcheck.
Maybe in the light of day, spellcheck can be a buddy who helps you out. In the panic of getting the damn app in before the clock ticks down, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
To do a good job with proofreading, you need to step away from the essays. You won’t see the mistake that’s been sitting right in front of your nose the whole time if you just keep reading and re-reading what you’ve already been reading. Take a break. Go do something else. Come back to it later, when you’re fresh.
Yeah, we know, there is no “later” this week.
We just don’t want this to be you.
This written communication thing is tricky business. Not only do you need to put yourself in your reader’s shoes and remember that they don’t have a clue about you and your world, but you also have to resist the natural tendency to fancy-up your sentences, and instead stick to normal everyday language. Developing good essays…
Yes it’s New Year’s Day — and yes essays are being written! So we’ll continue on with our standard weekday posts as a show of support to all of you BSers slaving away with Microsoft Word today! (We’re around too! If you want us to, like, give feedback on that draft you’ve coughed up!!) Usually…
The first two sentences of this paragraph are OK but they are a little hyped up and they sound like they are written as marketing materials for the school, instead of grounded explanations for what you value or why. It’s OK, but it is coming on as very complimentary (the school already knows how great they are, they don’t need you to tell them in the essay) and we’re not getting any sense of what your “self development journey” is about or how Duke specifically will be a part of that. These sentences could be literally written for any school.
Skip the hype. Skip the a55-kissing.
Simmilarly, when you profess how awesome the school is and how “unique” its community is or how “unmatched” the diversity there is, it just comes across as, well, disingenuous.
How do you know it’s “unmatched’? Have you done a survey of all the schools and are deigning this one the best in this regard? (this type of writing does not actually help you – it just sounds like you’re sucking up).
When you want to come across as authentic, then that means writing in natural language without a bunch of empty compliments.
This is just like the other warnings about tone we’ve offered recently.
First you need to know what to say in your essay.
But then you need to figure out a way to say it, where you don’t come across like a posturing baboon.
*We found a posing baboon pic but it was actually NSFW so this will have to suffice.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”