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”
You do not need to be fixed.
You definitely do not need to be packaged or branded.
You don’t need to be spun, or promoted, or polished up to a shine. (OK, maybe you need a shower, but…)
The problem with this process of applying to business school is that it sends the signal that who you are now is not good enough.
Average GMAT score? Not enough.
Decent grades? Not enough.
You pour your heart out into your essays and you still get rejected?
Clearly the schools are saying, You’re not enough.
You’re not good enough.
You’re not talented enough.
You have not done enough interesting things.
But hold up.
Let’s look at this.
From our perspective, sitting on the snarky side of the fence, there are only two requirements for getting into a good MBA program:
1. You must be willing to work hard.
2. You must give yourself enough time.
If you’re rushing, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to have as much success in this process as you could if you’d
not procrastinated the entire fall season away started on the process earlier and kept working diligently until it was done.
But guess what? You didn’t. You had noble intentions, but then Life got in the way, and you had trouble motivating yourself. You were probably THINKING ABOUT your apps nearly all the time since the summer, but you too often got faced with that demon of “ohgawdidontknowhowtodothisorwheretoevenbegin” and you flinched, and you escaped into Netflix again. And that’s what happened to the month of August, and September, and then again in November. That’s not a personal failing. All that is, is being overwhelmed by what seems like a monumental task (WRITING ESSAYS UGGH!) and then the pesky habit of Time took the months away.
When we boil this down, it actually ends up revealing itself to be #1 in disguise.
For most people, procrastination is not a sign that you are a loser. It does not even mean that you’re lazy. It’s just the simple human reaction when faced with fear of the unknown. The brain is wired to seek comfort; to run from risk.
Our ancient ancestors had a thought like this:
“Ooo look there’s a tiger!”
The human brain got deeply wired to react with:
“OMG GET THE F. OUT OF HERE!”
Applying to bschool is just our modern-day tiger.
You’ve set this very big goal for yourself — you want to go on the hunt! Shoot an animal for dinner! Provide for your family!
So you set out on the savannah to find an antelope or a buffalo or a wildebeest.
You make all the preparations. You sharpen your tools (study for the GMAT). You get ready for the expedition (take the GMAT). You learn about your prey and its habits (stalk the adcoms on twitter and facebook). It rains, so you adjust your plans (take the GMAT again). You have all your gear, and you’re committed to the task, and you head out onto the plains, and you scout your targets (decide on which schools to apply). You put yourself in position. You’re all ready to go, you’re going to definitely make a run for it now, and —
“Oh crap what is that oh sh!t no it’s a lion. It’s a lion? YES IT’S A LION RUN RUN RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!”
Well dang. That didn’t work like you’d hoped. Stupid lion. You tried for a gazelle. You end up nabbing a warthog. At least you’re not going to starve tonight.
You’re just super embarrassed when you have to go back to the village without the prize you went out there to hunt.
Talk about ruining your self esteem.
Talk about a great way to make you feel like a total idiot.
You talked up a good game, but when push comes to shove, what do you have to show for yourself?
Now you have to ask your recommender to do more recommendations. Now you have to admit that you failed.
We are here to tell you that you have not failed.
You simply have not succeeded yet.
Getting into bschool is about picking the schools that are right for you, and then working diligently on creating a set of application materials that present who you are authentically.
That is the secret to getting in.
It’s not about saying the right thing or figuring out a formula (except to the extent that yes, this is a competitive process, and things like GMAT and GPA do matter).
It’s not about coming up with the right wording that that school will respond to.
It’s about spending the time and effort to figure yourself out.
How do you know what schools to apply to?
You need to know yourself.
How do you write an essay that the school will respond to?
You need to know yourself.
What is the only fundamental requirement to make all of this happen?
You need to be willing to do the work.
Or really, a truer statement is, you need to be willing to go into the unknown.
Writing essays is facing the tiger. It’s saying, “No no no, I know your tricks. I know you’re just an oversized pussy cat.”
This is true in ALL things. In ALL of life.
Unless you’re someone who is literally hunting her meals on the plains every day. In which case, a tiger is actually a tiger, and we hope you will run from it!!!
But in modern-day life in the 21st Century, in the challenges that most of us humans are facing, the tiger is not really a tiger.
The tiger is only in your mind.
When your brain conjures up thoughts of “Oh sh!t I don’t know what to do, this is a very big project and the whole thing of me going out into the world and doing something this big and this important scares the holy eff out of me” then all of a sudden your brain is seeing TIGER!!!! when one doesn’t exist.
The only thing stopping you from getting into a great MBA program is your thoughts. If you are letting the fear of the tiger prevent you from doing the work that’s required, then let’s go back to square one:
From our perspective, there are only two requirements for getting into a good MBA program:
1. You must be willing to work hard.
2. You must give yourself enough time.
If you did not give yourself enough time, then with almost 100% certainty we can tell you, it’s because you let the FEAR OF the tiger get in the way.
There is no tiger.
You just imagined there is one.
And you reacted as any sane person facing a tiger would do.
So #2 is just that you got confused, and you let fear win.
So what about #1?
If you’re interested in an MBA then you have already been successful to some degree or another in life. At minimum, you have successfully completed college — which sounds basic, but remember, not everyone does that. You know how to work towards a goal. You know how to apply yourself and be productive. It’s also likely the case that you have taken the GMAT at least once and scored something decent, which again shows that you are able to put in the effort to achieve a purpose. You studied for the test (even if haphazardly) and you got a score that is in range for a top MBA program.
So right there, we have two datapoints to prove it. We know that you are CAPABLE of working hard.
Then what could the problem be? If you’re CAPABLE of working hard but you have not yet managed to get into a top MBA program, it boils down to:
A. You’re CAPABLE of working hard on other things, but you DID NOT REALLY work hard on your apps (you may have PRETENDED to work hard, by writing a few essays and sending them in, but you know in your heart if you REALLY worked hard on them or not). If it’s this, then it’s a problem of self-delusion. You fooled yourself. No big deal. We do that all the time, on all sorts of things! (“This first bite of Ben & Jerry’s tastes good! This second one tastes good too! I’m just gonna keep eating it!! [ 5 mins later…] Ugh I should not have eaten the whole pint omg this feels awful.”) The remedy? Work harder!!
B. The fear of the tiger got in the way, which is another way of saying, you weren’t WILLING.
When fear comes into your skull, it seems like there are no options.
You WANT to achieve this thing, but dang. Real life. Overwhelming. It’s too big.
Or whatever the fear-thoughts manifest as in your own specific incarnation.
If you got stymied by B — not being willing to work hard (which is another way of saying that you were deterred by the fear-thought, since we already have established that you WANT this for yourself, and you are CAPABLE of it) — then we have a trick for you.
You don’t have to know how to do it.
You don’t even have to know how to be willing to know how.
You just have to be WILLING to be willing.
If you’re reading this and it’s not making any sense, that’s OK.
But if you’re reading this and it’s clicking for you in some way, then good.
Most people reading this now are either in an egg nog stupor of celebration around the holidays and having already gotten into one of their top-choice MBA programs, and they’re simply still in the habit of reading the ‘Snark every day.
But there’s a whole slew of others of you who are coming here with a sense of dread and mild panic over all of the work to be done, and many doubts and insecurities about this whole process.
You don’t have to know how to get in. You just have to identify one thing to be done at a time, and go do it.
Maybe that means writing an outline. Just one. For one school. Map out your ideas. Put some structure to it.
Maybe it means figuring out your career goals, and making sure that they are detailed and specific enough.
Maybe it means re-examining your list of schools and making sure you’re tackling the right schools for you, based on the reality of your profile, that you really have a chance of getting into.
Maybe it means filling out the app form for one school. Or going back over the app and verifying and validating the data.
Do one thing. Right now. Be like Nike and just do it.
Then make a list of all of the others.
And when you’re feeling stuck, and overwhelmed, when staring at the screen full of words that you don’t feel are right and aren’t making any sense and you’re doubting whether any of it will work anyway. And you’re tempted to just close the whole thing down and go back to your WoW game. When you’re feeling discouraged — or just unable to tear yourself away from the party and go upstairs to work on the essay. Even though you told yourself that that’s what you were going to do this weekend, that you’d spend time with your family for awhile but then you were determined to make progress on your apps in the evening, yet here it is, “evening” and you don’t feel like doing it.
Just remember: THE TIGER IS NOT REAL.
The only thing you need in order to be successful with getting into bschool (or getting to any other huge major success in your life) is you have to BE WILLING.
You have to see that it’s your thoughts that are holding you back.
If you are WILLING, then you don’t need to know how to do it. You simply become open to trying.
If you don’t feel like you’re willing — if you feel like the fear of the tiger is too strong — then there’s a solution for that, too.
You just have to be willing to be willing.
Anybody can do that.
And please do not forget.
This process of applying to bschool — even when you’re rejected — this is not a referendum on who you are.
You are perfect. Already.
You don’t have to package yourself up into somebody else in order to get in.
You just have to do the work of uncovering who you are. And sharing that on the page in an essay.
And the only way to do that is to be willing.
The advice we give to many BSers as Round 1 is breathing down their necks is: If you know you can do better on your applications, then don’t rush them. Don’t submit crap apps in Round 1 just to get them submitted. That advice came with a big caveat, though. It was predicated on the…
Writing essays. There are more than a few out there who absolutely dread this process. Either you’ve tried to do it before, such as last year or in Round 1 with a prior set of apps, and you failed, and you cannot stomach the fact of going through all of that again. Or you just…
Here’s what we know:
ALL of the Brave Supplicants we worked with last year in Round 1 got into a top choice MBA program who:
1. Started early
2. Worked diligently
Many of them got into more than one!!
Here’s what else we know:
MANY of the BSers from Round 1 got in who:
1. Started really late
Some of these also got into more than one!! But many others of these BSers got in nowhere at all.
We also had a handful of BSers who started the Complete Essay Package in Round 2, but many of them simply did not put in the time and effort and rework required on their submissions at each step of the way, and some never even completed it. They dropped off our radar, and we don’t know if they ended up submitting or not. They ghosted us.
Year after year, we see LOTS of candidates make it into the very best programs, when they start early enough, and they actually WORK on their apps from the very beginning.
We gave what we hoped was a buck-up buddy post in late December 2017, which distills down the issues that we’ve identified in causing BSers to fail:
The tl;dr of that VERY long post is, all that’s required to succeed in this process of applying to business school is the willingness to work.
If you’re coming around the EssaySnark blahg now, then by definition, you HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
encourage — no, we exhort you:
Starting early is strongly correlated with success in this process.
Starting late will significantly dampen your chances of getting into the school that you love.
“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to become extraordinary.”
EssaySnark doesn’t want to get all metasophical on you or anything (yes that’s a word, we just made it up) but…
We have this one client.
He tried to get in last year.
He started too late, and he got bad advice, and he submitted some really lousy apps. And of course he targeted the very best schools.
(Oh wait – you’ve heard this story before? Yeah, so have we.)
So then he comes to us and wants help this year. And we go over a strategy and he’s bound and determined to reapply at some of those schools he bombed at before, and OK fine, we say it’s unlikely but go along with it, and we keep encouraging him to try elsewhere too. At other really good schools. Like UCLA Anderson.
(Maybe this kid is a little too big for his britches. LA isn’t good enough for him. It’s New York New York New York for this one.)
Whatever. He tries again this season, with Round 1 apps like he’s supposed to, and…
Here we are in March and he’s not been accepted anywhere yet.
And do you wanna know what we think the reason is?
(Besides the aforementioned too-big issue.)
This kid has lost the faith.
This guy has a screamin’ GMAT score, his academics are decent to good, he’s done the standard pre-MBA career track and his goals are in line with what we’d expect. He’s got some relatively OK stories to tell in his apps, nothing earth-shattering, but some above-average examples of having an impact and doing good. On paper he’s competitive with his peers.
And he’s not getting in.
If a Brave Supplicant finds him- or herself in this situation, then in our brutally direct assessment, there are two possible causes:
#1. The BSer is arrogant. Yes, we’ve detected a smidgeon of that in this dude, but, nothing extreme. However, if the arrogant vibe comes out too strong in an interview, it can be the kiss of death. Perhaps there’s some of that going on.
More likely though it’s:
#2. The BSer doesn’t believe. In fact, the BSer not only does not believe he’ll get in to bschool — he actively imagines and fears and fantasizes about not getting in.
While EssaySnark does not have direct access to this kid’s thoughts, we are quite confident in our assessment that this is what the problem is.
This guy has gotten his confidence trampled, and now he believes the worst. He has decided that he is a bschool loser, and he’s doing all in his power to create that as his reality.
If someone is in this situation, if someone has convinced himself that he’s not gonna make it, if the underlying thought patterns are of doom and gloom in someone’s mind, well… sorry Charlie, there ain’t nuthin’ we can do.
Yes, we’ve tried the cheerleading rap, we’ve tried all the rah-rah and go get ums and all. There is NO REASON why this person should not be getting an offer (at least, for the schools he finally resigned himself to in Round 2, which were much more in line with where he should’ve been targeting from the beginning — yes, we’re now talking Kellogg instead of Harvard).
Sometimes, it just takes time. Some people don’t make it in the first time through, and they get up, brush themselves off, and try again. As long as you do that with clear eyes and a realistic plan, you WILL get in — eventually. There is room for everyone at the bschool inn, you just have to find your proper home. Swear to G., this is what EssaySnark believes.
And we will be there to help you. We WANT you to be successful. (At least, the non-arrogant, non-greedy, non-unethical ones of you.)
But we canNOT help at all if you do not believe in yourself.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Ya gotta believe. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else can do it for you.
Just after Round 1 deadlines passed last Fall, we published a series of posts about “What do you do next??” that talked about leveraging all the energy and momentum that you’ve built up.
If you missed those before, a few might be worth reading now:
You’ve survived the first two weeks of January which are cruelly crammed with too many MBA app deadlines, so CONGRATS for that! You put in a lot of work over the past month, and guess what? We’ve got a few suggestions for you today for more work you can do!! 😀
The best time to start a new project is NOW, right after you’ve finished a big push on something important.
Now is when you’ve got your energy up. Your juices are flowing. You know how to accomplish something – because you just did it! Regardless of how confident you may be feeling on those apps you just submitted, the truth is that you SUBMITTED them. Which is super awesome and wonderful!
Now you can see what other amazing things you can accomplish.
It’s 2018, after all, and the time when many are setting goals for the coming year.
How about just a few goals to achieve for the rest of the month?
Here are some practical ideas for you – cribbed from this post on Imposter Syndrome which could also be worth a read.
Some ways to get out of your comfort zone and dive in with your newfound energy and commitment:
- Scoping out local Meetups in subject areas you’re passionate about
- Searching for groups like Girls Who Code who need facilitators nationwide
- Tracking calls for speakers at conferences you’ve attended or have been meaning to attend
- Donating your time to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to help people prepare and file their tax returns
- Delivering a lunch & learn at your office
- Reaching out to your alma mater for guest lecturer opportunities
These ideas are fairly U.S.-centric but perhaps they trigger an inspiration for something more local to you, if you’re not from here.
We also had some tips in our prior post this week on making changes in 2018.
There’s so many ways you can recreate yourself — if you only set your mind to it and do it!!
aka, How to spend your time and focus your efforts in this between-round period! aka, How to create a life worth living!!! We covered the important next steps for moving from Round 1 to Round 2 yesterday. Today we’re offering some additional ideas on how to leverage your newfound-motivation to make it a permanent part…
For many of you, Round 1 apps are done. Essays have been written, recommendations gathered, after-submit video questions completed. You’re looking around and you’re wondering, “What next?”
You’ve been so busy for so many months (errr, so many weeks for some of you) that you had this massively overloaded to-do list and all this excess stress of deadlines driving you every day.
What in the heck do you do with yourself?
It can be a weird sensation, when you’ve been pushing so hard, and now you look up and you have nothing to focus on.
But never fear. EssaySnark has some suggestions!!
We made the biting suggestion in our series of HBS posts last week that BSers should “get a hobby” if they came up short on the Harvard interview, and we actually were only somewhat kidding with that.
The very best time to launch yourself full force into something you’re interested in — nay, passionate about — is right now, when you’re coming off the high of being productive in working towards a personal goal.
What most people do when they achieve a success is they coast. They celebrate. They pull out the plug and go on autopilot, and they quickly fall back to stasis. They resume the level of (non)motivation and (semi)productivity that they’d been at before.
In other words, they go back to being banana slugs.
“What success?” you may be asking. “I haven’t gotten in yet. There is no ‘success’ happening for me. All I did was submit my apps, and not even as many as I planned.”
Oui, oui, ma cherie, that is indeed a success!
You set a goal — apply in Round 1 — and you did it!!
You got one or more apps in.
Or, if you didn’t pull the trigger on any yet, you are still in the “apply now mode” of the admissions cycle. You have made some sort of progress, even if it’s only realizing that yes, you need to take the GMAT again, or coming to the stark recognition that no, you’re not ready yet, and you need to hold back and not jeopardize your chances with erratic applications.
Most of you though got in at least two or maybe four or even five applications over the last six weeks, and yes that is indeed a success. You set a task for yourself, one that requires long-term planning and many steps of execution, and you did it.
Time will tell how good those apps were and if you were aiming appropriately, but no matter what, you did something impressive, more than the vast majority of others in the world are doing. You’re in a minority of people striving for more, and it’s something to be proud of.
And, the best way to leverage that energy and momentum is to harness it towards the next thing.
Think of it like climbing a mountain: You’ve just established your base camp, and started to lay down the route to the next phase, and secured your sights on the top.
What do you do next?
You don’t lay down and take a nap. (OK, you can take a short one. One day. Not multiple napdays in a row though!)
You figure out what else needs to be done, and you do it.
The obvious things to be focusing on with your MBA apps are:
- Interview prep – don’t take this lightly, it’s a big task in itself!
- Round 2 strategies – yes it’s good to be putting a Plan B in place, just in case!
- School visits – because October and early November are prime time for getting those in!
HOWEVER. That’s not all you could use this fabulous energy and determination for!
Please circle back to the blahg
tomorrow edit: HERE! for more suggestions on the best ways to leverage your current position in life.
Shameless plug! If you did not get as many apps in for Round 1 as you had planned, or you’re any of the various breeds of procrastinator that exist among the BSer population, then we can suggest the Round 2 MBA Application Countdown which has just gotten underway! This is a week by week reminder from EssaySnark of what to be working on and how to maximize the time you have available from now till the make-or-break deadlines hit us in January. We’ve also reduced the price of the Complete Essay Package to the lowest it will be for the remainder of the year, in case you want even more support on every aspect of your essay development process! Or just keep coming back to the blahg for tips and tricks. We’ve got plenty of advice coming your way on these pages in an effort to support you towards your MBA dreams!