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Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful?

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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 10 Apr 2008, 07:50
Ya, some sort of essay vault would be great. I would love to see an example of a first draft/final draft. We all talk about our writing, and how great our essays are, but we (or at least I) have nothing to compare ourselves to. It would be nice to get some sort of general idea of where you're stacking up in your writing.
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 10 Apr 2008, 10:42
writing good essays is easy. Writing great essays is really really tough and needs absolute clarity of thought, solid research backed by a great writing style. For less accomplished writers, it is tough to write great essays. Each person can have his/her own process of writing them but the one thing that cannot be doubted is that essays do take a lot of time and effort irrespective of your process.
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 12 Apr 2008, 23:52
OK, so I have to be the one idiot to ask but.... I have probably heard a thousand times that your essays have to tell your "story", the most important part of MBA essays is that they properly convey your "story", etc, etc. I'm sorry but what the heck is a story?? Can someone give me a few examples? I mean other than someone that has something exceptional (overcame incredible odds, had to adapt to a foreign culture, poor ubpringing, etc) what exactly is a story? If I grew up in the suburbs, went to college, went to work and now want an MBA, what is my "story"? I just don't get it. I mean sure, I have accomplishments, goals, individual stories of success and failure but I just don't understand this idea of having a unifying, coherent, story in your application. People are not stories, they are people. Sorry for the rant, but will someone please explain?
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 13 Apr 2008, 01:22
IHateTheGMAT wrote:
OK, so I have to be the one idiot to ask but.... I have probably heard a thousand times that your essays have to tell your "story", the most important part of MBA essays is that they properly convey your "story", etc, etc. I'm sorry but what the heck is a story?? Can someone give me a few examples? I mean other than someone that has something exceptional (overcame incredible odds, had to adapt to a foreign culture, poor ubpringing, etc) what exactly is a story? If I grew up in the suburbs, went to college, went to work and now want an MBA, what is my "story"? I just don't get it. I mean sure, I have accomplishments, goals, individual stories of success and failure but I just don't understand this idea of having a unifying, coherent, story in your application. People are not stories, they are people. Sorry for the rant, but will someone please explain?

people are not stories, but to adcoms who read over hundreds of applications during each round applicants are most remembered for their stories. when an adcom reads over your essay, they will have to summarize who you are in deciding whether or not to admit you. it is much more convincing to have a "story" that they can easily make sense of. if you can fit your accomplishments, goals, and stories of success and failure together and frame it to show how an mba is the next logical step, then i think that is a good overall story.
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 13 Apr 2008, 14:12
I have recently started my Why MBA type essays, and I agree with the statements so far.

It took only two hours or so to write out a VERY rough draft, but I can see how it will take countless more hours to move that draft from what it is now into a focused finished product.

~Sam
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 13 Apr 2008, 17:43
Steel wrote:
IHateTheGMAT wrote:
OK, so I have to be the one idiot to ask but.... I have probably heard a thousand times that your essays have to tell your "story", the most important part of MBA essays is that they properly convey your "story", etc, etc. I'm sorry but what the heck is a story?? Can someone give me a few examples? I mean other than someone that has something exceptional (overcame incredible odds, had to adapt to a foreign culture, poor ubpringing, etc) what exactly is a story? If I grew up in the suburbs, went to college, went to work and now want an MBA, what is my "story"? I just don't get it. I mean sure, I have accomplishments, goals, individual stories of success and failure but I just don't understand this idea of having a unifying, coherent, story in your application. People are not stories, they are people. Sorry for the rant, but will someone please explain?


In my mind a story is this:

The sum of you experiences, background, strengths, and weaknesses should = your goals and reason why b-school makes sense for you.

You're selling yourself and probably a very particular aspect of yourself. Your essays should all point to one conclusion in the adcoms mind: You are perfect for XXX school because you want to do YYY based on ZZZ experiences. Fill in the XXX, YYY, and ZZZ and you have your story. All your essays need to round out this story, contribute to this story, all while being stand alone great essays in their own right (and answering the adcom question). But if you don't have your story down pat beforehand (and this took me a month of explaining to people my ambitions and background in order to craft it to a point where it was both effective and automatic), then your essays aren't going to hold together to advance your cause for business school as effectively as they could.

Remember you should be able to boil down your "story" into one sentence above - but you should then be able to take that sentence and have a 15 minute conversation with someone with it being self consistent and packed with examples of how that sentence makes sense. If you can do that - then you should be in good shape in crafting your essays to advance that story (and to be consistent in your interviews later).


Wow! Fantastic answer! Thank you.
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2008, 11:03
The toughest part is putting pen to paper and start writing. You can and will think about your story all the time...in the shower, on your drive, those boring meetings, in the gym and in your bed...but a lot of us are not used to writing proper complete sentences anymore. And we hardly write convincing arguments in paragrpahs at work...It's all powerpoint and bullet points. You will procrastinate and procrastinate and do it some more. So one advice I will give will be to write down your story in bullet points, structure your essays and make progress on some of the other aspects of your essay...talk to a lot of current students and recent admits and get your 'Why this School' right. I waited till my essays were good to share with current students, and it the end there wasn't enough time for them to help me...Get your conversations started early, and then work on your essays iteratively...
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2008, 11:41
ujjib wrote:
The toughest part is putting pen to paper and start writing. You can and will think about your story all the time...in the shower, on your drive, those boring meetings, in the gym and in your bed...but a lot of us are not used to writing proper complete sentences anymore. And we hardly write convincing arguments in paragrpahs at work...It's all powerpoint and bullet points. You will procrastinate and procrastinate and do it some more. So one advice I will give will be to write down your story in bullet points, structure your essays and make progress on some of the other aspects of your essay...talk to a lot of current students and recent admits and get your 'Why this School' right. I waited till my essays were good to share with current students, and it the end there wasn't enough time for them to help me...Get your conversations started early, and then work on your essays iteratively...


That makes sense. So, basically the best plan would be to start thinking about "story" (or - how the sum of my experiences, background, strengths, and weaknesses = my goals and reason why b-school makes sense for me, as Steel said) now and to get this down on paper. In other words, I should be thinking about my career and stories to date and my future career goals + reasons for MBA in depth - visiting schools, talking to alumni, talking to people in my target profession, etc. And once I know this stuff in depth, I should turn it into a coherent story that I should map out on paper to use as a basis when I get into my essays. That sounds like a good plan. I've already thought a ton about this stuff, so just a bit more research and thinking about it and I should be able to get something solid on paper.

Thanks. This has been really helpful. It's great to have the assistance of some experienced pros!
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2008, 11:53
Steel wrote:
You are perfect for XXX school because you want to do YYY based on ZZZ experiences. Fill in the XXX, YYY, and ZZZ and you have your story.


I agree that showing fit is extremely important, but I think it is more complicated than your formula, Steel. I am sure you've done much more than filling in the XXX and ZZZ in your apps!

To me the main difficulty was showing who I really am using a 'thousand words or less' format rather than showing which aspects of me might be valuable for the school. I left those decisions to the Adcoms - after all, they decide if you will "fit" in, and your task is to show the best you have on offer.

That said, you need to think of individual experiences that highlight your true self, i.e. the way you think and act, as well as your values, etc. At the same time, you also need to answer the questions in the prompt.

Writing essays is tough whatever way you look at it.
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2008, 12:20
xerox wrote:
Steel wrote:
You are perfect for XXX school because you want to do YYY based on ZZZ experiences. Fill in the XXX, YYY, and ZZZ and you have your story.


I agree that showing fit is extremely important, but I think it is more complicated than your formula, Steel. I am sure you've done much more than filling in the XXX and ZZZ in your apps!

To me the main difficulty was showing who I really am using a 'thousand words or less' format rather than showing which aspects of me might be valuable for the school. I left those decisions to the Adcoms - after all, they decide if you will "fit" in, and your task is to show the best you have on offer.

That said, you need to think of individual experiences that highlight your true self, i.e. the way you think and act, as well as your values, etc. At the same time, you also need to answer the questions in the prompt.

Writing essays is tough whatever way you look at it.


Definitely didn't mean to oversimplify into a formula - only created that concept to get the idea across easily and to stress that one of the keys to making a great set of essays is coming up with the central axle to wrap all of your essays around. You then have to face the challenges that Xerox lays out in trying to showcase yourself in the best light within each individual essay. However, if your central axle (i.e. the story you bring to the table) has not been honed and sharpened, you won't be able to tie your essays back to a central message effectively.

If everything you write does not advance your compact and centralized message (i.e. the message you want an adcom member to take away from your application; or "story"), then you're going to end up wasting precious words getting off point.

While I agree that it is adcom's job to figure out "fit", there are definitely ways to craft your messages differently based on the school your applying to (whether it be tone of your writing, to the specific examples you use, etc.).
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Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful? [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2008, 12:51
Essays... the next toughest step after taking GMAT...

Don't fool yourself - it is a rocket science. You need to be sharp in pointing out your strengths (that at the same time align with a particular school's philosophy). It might take overall months of headache and soul searching before you come up with your "great" essays. The more time and effort you put into them, the more chances they will be successful. Quite logical.

Think about the first school you want to apply to. Most probably, they will reject your application because your essays will be rough in their eyes, though you might think that you put all the efforts into them. My experience was that my first and only school was Stan, R1. I made the best possible essays at that time. But when I prepared other apps in R2, I understood that there were some other critical things that I'd better put into my Stan app. But the train has gone, you know...

just my 2 cents.
Re: Are essays really that time-consuming/stressful?   [#permalink] 14 Apr 2008, 12:51
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