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Have a good application season! dzyubam
been getting a ton of inquiries on stanford's famous "What Matters Most and Why" question.
some folks use this precious space to make a candidacy pitch. they're gonna get plenty of that in your resume, other essay questions, recs, etc. for this sweet little question, they are more interested in learning about your values, who you are, what makes you TICK----how you think about stuff in a way that reveals how you're interesting and different.
it's an incredible question, just close your eyes and chew on it for a second: "of all the things... ever......... which thing matters MOST to you. and why?"
family? health? trust? discovery? kevin on top chef? your childhood teddy bear? humility? fear?
we see a lot of "family." it's instinctual. it almost makes you feel bad to think anything else, right? and we've seen some superb ones, but unless your reasoning/angle is incredibly unique, just be aware that TONS of folks are gonna use that.
here's a potentially helpful way to THINK about a cool kind of answer:
"While this may rank 7th on someone else's list, it's #1 on mine: XXXXXXXX."
here's a made-up example:
"While others value accountability to greater or lesser degrees, for me, it is an indispensable rudder."
i'm into this sucker instantly for a few reasons: (1) i like the idea that this kid is comfortable going out on a limb, and (2) i like that he may just SURPRISE me with his reasoning. i don't know what he's gonna say next. and that's awesome. can't say the same for "my family matters most to me." ----> we pretty much know EXACTLY how that story goes.
while it's true of most essays, it is never more relevant than HERE to be authentic and honest. the more soul-bearing and less calculating the response, the better. write this one for yourself, not for the adcom. it's what they want. you almost can't lose if you START there.
Today I want to talk about a topic that used to be much hotter in MBA circles, REAL ESTATE.
As some of you may know, I am a bit of a real estate junkie. I have worked at ING Real Estate, Trammell Crow Residential, and now I own my own multifamily properties. At HBS I took advantage of all the Real Estate resources available to me (including those at the Kennedy School and MIT).
Many of the questions we get each year have to do with not just real estate, but ANY specialized program. That is, "But Jon, HBS offers only one real estate class. Why go there if I want to do Real Estate?" Or for example, "Why would I go to Kellogg instead of NYU--I am interested in finance, not marketing!"
Let's get into it guys, because this is the WRONG way to go about the process. In real estate especially, there are three main considerations in selecting an MBA program:
1) GO TO THE BEST SCHOOL YOU CAN GET INTO. I dont care how many real estate classes your school offers or doesnt offer. Real estate isnt rocket science-you will learn all you need to on the job! Go to business school to meet interesting people, develop a more well-rounded background, for the reputation, etc. NOT just to learn, for example, "real estate." One day, whether youre raising money for your venture (be it real estate, marketing, what have you) some rich oil dude in Alaska will say to you, "Well where did you learn all that you know?" You dont want to have to tell him a story about "Well you may not have heard of it, but THIS program has the best class offerings in my field!" Nossir. Tell him "I went to Harvard," and he will give you his money.
2) GO TO THE BEST SCHOOL YOU CAN GET INTO. I cant say this enough times in a row. This. Is. The. Key. To everything.
3) CONSIDER GEOGRAPHY. Real estate is a local business. The only possible exception in the real estate world to the above 2 rules, is one of geography. If you are 100% sure that you will end up in, say, Atlanta, then you should consider programs in the Georgia area. Real estate especially is a local business, and there is no doubt that there is some benefit to being plugged into these markets. If you know that you want to wind up on the west coast, for that matter, consider schools in California. You get the idea.
Hope this helps gang, from one real estate junkie to...others, I hope.
What is up my friends. Nice that the forums lately have been particularly respectful, eh? Seems like most nasty folks have moved on to greener pastures. Nice change of pace.
Today, we are going to talk briefly about DEFERRALS. I was just contacted by an old client whom we worked with to get into a few of the top programs in Asia--and he deferred successfully his acceptance.
It IS possible to do this, and I wanted to talk about how to do so. First of all, you should start by seeing what the school's perspective is on the process. They may lay out a very clear process to defer your admission.
Typically, you will need to write a letter, laying out your argument. And you will need a TIGHT line of reasoning. We have had some clients have their deferral request accepted, and some turned down. The key is to argue that you will be a much more valuable member at the community, after this waiting period. So what are great reasons to ask for a deferral?
1) To pursue a project at work 2) To pursue an amazing opportunity outside work 3) A personal matter (death in the family, etc.)
With a strong argument, you will make it happen. The key is, as always, to write a compelling reason as to why you need the deferral, and why you will be BETTER suited for the program, one year from now.
oh so tempting. you've got the wording JUUUUUST right. the essay for that next app is... more or less the same, you convince yourself.
so you figure why not just cut and paste the sucker?
(1) if a school were to sense that any given essay had been written for a different school... it just doesn't look good. they're not fools, they recognize that most of you are applying to multiple schools, and that you're gonna claim that each one is your top choice. but they WANT to believe that you mean it when you say it to them. you will WRECK your case with a thinly veiled copy/paste job. your job is to make each school feel like you only have eyes for THEM.
(2) as similar as some essay prompts might seem to one another, there is almost ALWAYS some nuance to each question that begs care and attention. sure, you may have nailed certain descriptions of a work experience or career goal etc etc, and can't possibly phrase the stuff any better. by all means, don't lose sleep over reworking the thing only to produce something that reads "less well." it's okay to lift pieces here and there. and, frankly, time when you absolutely should.
BUT--> spend the extra few hours/days/whatever it takes, adapting every single response [start to finish], to make absolute sure you answer every nook and cranny of the question.
(3) unless you really spend the time to ADAPT the sucker... your reader will always know. and you'll come across lazy... or worse, disrespectful. it is absolutely worth the time and effort to tend to each question. start early and don't paint yourself into a corner.
many of the folks you're competing with have very specific plans about what they want to achieve. and unlike, say, college.... business school training is a very targeted two years. think of it as an incubator for folks with IDEAS. why give away a highly coveted seat to someone without clear goals? those people will be less likely to take advantage of their two years than those who know what they want.
consider the following analogy: you own a GIANT toy store----like a Toys R Us. and your goal is to make as much money on christmas eve as humanly possible. your store is physically huge and to walk up and down every aisle could take someone a few hours. but your store is going to be open for only six hours on Christmas Eve and you're going to give special access to only 500 people out of thousands who have written letters to you to earn this "golden ticket." remember, your goal is to make money, which means... SALES. whom do you give those tickets to?
here are two candidates:
CANDIDATE 1 -- Dear Store Owner, I am dying to own an XBox 360 and have wanted one for an entire year and my mom finally agreed to let me buy one. I know that it's in Aisle 32, and I've studied the floor plan of your store in my sleep. The minute I enter the front doors, I will hang a hard right and proceed up Aisle 3 to the mid-section, then cut diagonally past the bikes and tires to the way back, where I'll make a left at 32 and walk to the middle where I'll find my system on the middle shelf. I will then proceed straight to checkout with credit card in hand. Please give me a ticket to your store on Christmas Eve. Sincerely, Jimmy
CANDIDATE 2 -- Dear Store Owner, I am a lover of toys ever since I was in the crib. I enjoy playing with them and creating things and using my imagination. My family has built a set of shelves to make room for all the new toys I'm going to buy. It is my belief that toys are fun to play with. I cannot wait to come to your store which is the best store in the whole world to be exposed to all the greatest toys and possibilities. Please give me a ticket to your store on Christmas Eve. Sincerely, Patty
now, if your goal is to make money, you are absolutely gonna give your tickets to 500 kids who are like Candidate 1----know exactly what they want. they're gonna have a plan, and make a sale (at least). Candidate 1 also sounds well-researched, and is more likely to spot a good deal when he sees it, and buy more stuff. i.e., take advantage of his surroundings. but you KNOW he's gonna at LEAST grab that Xbox. that second kid is probably gonna get overwhelmed by the number of options, and ultimately get lost. she's probably gonna be so excited, she'll start at Aisle 1 and then by the time she gets to Aisle 8, the store's closed and you've lost a sale that COULD have gone to a kid with a better plan. yeah, this kid could grab everything in sight, ton of potential... but without a plan, it's just.... more of a liability than anything else.
we need the blueprint. we need the exact steps. you can still change your mind at bschool. (of course the schools know and expect this), but is says a great deal about you to have a lot of momentum toward... SOMETHING.
This morning we had an interesting question from a girl in Indonesia. She essentially wanted to know why everyone's so obsessed with Rankings, which Rankings are the best, Rankings, Rankings, Rankings. WIth her permission of course, I decided to address this question to a larger audience.
First of all, we all know that everyone loves to rank the bschools. And why? Because it sells magazines! It sells books! Its business, like any other. So how much faith should we put in these rankings? Very, very little, of course.
So what good do they do? Well, for better or for worse, employers check them out. Enthusiasts (such as myself) check them out as well. They are silly, sure, but they do influence people. And why are we getting an MBA, if not to influence people? US World and News Report's rankings have somehow become a bit of a benchmark--and you will see that they consistently Rank Harvard and Stanford as the top two programs. This, too, has become conventional wisdom at this point. (Im partial to HBS myself, but thats only because I picked HBS over Stanford...)
So the key here, is that Rankings alone dont matter. But REPUTATION does. One of the best reasons to go to bschool (and dont say this on your app) is that it gives you credibility. "Oh, well if hes good enough for HBS hes good enough for us." And rankings, for better or worse, do influence how people view programs. "Oh right, I read that Babson has the best entrepreneurship program." Without the rankings, Babson might not have gotten the word out as effectively.
Hope this helps, yall. Keep the great comments coming, and good luck!
My friends, pleeeease do your research before signing on to work with a consultant! I just got off the phone with a very, very disgruntled young woman who had been taken by a not-so-friendly consultant. In this case, a very experienced dude, but MEAN! : ( She was heartbroken, felt ripped off, all that bad stuff. Do yourself a favor, and research your consultants. It breaks my heart every time we hear one of these sad stories. Every week a new "consultant" posts...someplace, trolling for business--please, please be careful.
But. That is not what we came to discuss. Today, Id like to talk about non-traditional applications. And I dont mean applications written by people from unusual backgrounds. We always have some clients who hope to "do something different" in their applications. "What if I told a short story," or "wrote a poem," etc.
And to be honest, we have had a great deal of luck with such unusual approaches. Why do everything the exact same way as the rest of the applicant pool? No reason to. But, if you do take this unusual approach, always remember to do two critical things:
1) Answer the question. No matter how interesting your approach is, and no matter how craaaazy you decide to skin this thing, always answer every single solitary piece of the question. Dont try to outsmart the adcom, "they dont need to know THAT," etc. Write a poem. Send in a video of interpretive dance--do it. Im cool with it. But make sure to answer every piece of their question along the way.
2) Explain your decision. If you choose to do something unique, always find a way in the app to explain your decision to the adcom. Why did you do a poem? Why did you send dance? You will need to set the thing up somehow--otherwise, you run the risk of the adcom's thinking that you are simply trying to make a point. And of course, thats not the case...
One thing that many of our clients seem to be missing this year, is how scared the schools are. Not of the boogeyman, or that youre gonna drop out. Theyre afraid that after you graduate, you WONT GET A JOB. The oooold J-O-B. It's an issue.
So. What do we do about this? We sooooothe them in our apps. We show them that our career vision is easy. It is clear. If we dont have ANY background in consulting, then we dont hinge our entire application on working at McKinsey after graduation. Why? Because that job is very, very hard to get. Same with "Private Equity."
I can hear the adcom in the back of my mind's eye, "Whats that? You wanna get into Private Equity? Well so does everyone else...and you have no experience, and there are no jobs. You scare me..."
So bear this in mind, my friends. Schools NEED to know that youre gonna get a job after you graduate. Lay out specifics to prove that youve thought it through to the last detail. If you need to do Private Equity, for example, perhaps lay out a back up plan. Admit that you KNOW how hard it will be to get the job. Explain how you WILL get it.
The bschools are scared that youll be unemployed. That makes them look bad. So...prove them wrong.
We have seen one pagers, two pagers, three pagers--the gamut.
We believe that the strongest move is to put forward a one page resume. Why? Well, here are three great reasons:
1) Once you get into HBS, they provide a resume format that they publish as being "ideal." That format, the official HBS format, is just one page. Why would anyone who hasnt even gone to bschool need more than one page, if actual HBS MBA grads only need one page? Also, why not just skip all the mumbo-jumbo, and just use THEIR official format? I have it. I can send it to you. Hit me up.
2) When applying to elite schools, you will NEVER have the coolest experience. No matter how much of a badass you are, theres another dude who has done better things. If you cured cancer, the next guy cured "viruses." You get the idea. So. What happens if THAT guy (the guy who cured "viruses") can get his resume down to one page. Now, youre tellin me that YOU need TWO pages, but that cat only needs one? It makes you look like a chump. Some amazing people will capture all their experiences in one page. To be the guy who "requires two pages" is a pretty bold statement on your part. Youd better be able/willing to back it up. Youd better be preeeetty darn cool.
3) Work gets better when it is shorter. Write a one page resume--the process will FORCE you to capture the essence of your work. It will be better, I assure you, than the two page version.
Hope this helps gang. One page should be juuuust fine. Trust me.
we wanna talk about the phrase "career progress." let's zero in on that word PROGRESS. it is the key to tackling this issue in a bunch of essays.
the impulse is to travel back in time to Job 1 and discuss it: role, duties, accomplishments. then move onto Job 2, and do the same thing: role, duties, accomplishments. then 3. then 4, and so on.
sound familiar? that's because this is "a resume." NOT career progress!!
the key here is the difference between *DYNAMIC* and *INACTIVE* writing.
think about the DECISIONS that pushed you from one major bulletpoint to the next. what factors in Job 1 (when combined) caused you to "take the promotion"? or to "make the lateral move to Company Y"? or to "reboot and alter the course of your career path entirely"? don't just walk us through the chronology--again, that much we can see plainly in a resume: A, B, and C. what we DON'T see, is WHY A went to B, and WHY B led to C. This gives us a sense of progression, and therefore... where it's all headed.
what did you like? hate? what turned you on? off? was there ever an "aha!" or "light bulb" moment? when was it? take us back to that moment and make US feel it too. whenever a question asks you to assess your career progress to date, or the like, they want to know about (1) what your goals were at each node, and (2) how successful (or unsuccessful) each experience was in meeting those goals. focus on the evolution of your DECISIONS, not on the jobs themselves. those are simply the names of the streets. we wanna know why you turned left or right.
the best way to NAIL all this is to walk us through your career history always WITH RESPECT TO YOUR GOALS. sometimes the goals are unwavering, sometimes the goals themselves evolve. either way, think about what were you after, and why you accepted Job offer #1? okay, now assume it met certain needs. presumably, you're set for life, right? end of story? you can remain at that job forever and ever?
well, what ran out, what changed, what made you DECIDE to make the next move? something did. focusing on those decisions give us dynamism, and brings this piece to life.
quick thought on structure. and specifically... setup.
rather than trudge through your accomplishment, or failure, or story X, in a long, dull-as-paste manner... you can knife away all that fat with a strong setup.
there are two simple components to an intelligent setup:
(1) The Objective (2) The Obstacles
The Objective --- company hemmoraging money, you were called on to stop the bleeding; defect in product, you needed to fix it before the hit-the-shelves date; boss left abruptly, now you were tapped to run the show; blah blah blah. identify what it was you needed TO DO. or that needed TO BE DONE. define YOUR ROLE in it. "it was on me to XXXX." "my job was to YYYY." sometimes these will be one, sometimes they will be two.
"Last fall at XX company, as lead YY, I was responsible ZZZ." or "My company needed to XXX. My job was to coordinate YYY."
The Obstacles --- this is the absolute key. if anyone could have done it, or if it weren't out of the ordinary in some way, it probably isn't the best story to use. there have to have been SOME elements that made it a CHALLENGE. "normally it takes 3 months; i was given 3 weeks." now it's a story. "this is hard even for a typical team of 20; i had a team of three trainees, none of whom had any formal experience." you get the idea. there are ALWAYS elements that ... complicate the task. POUR IT ON. the more the merrier.
these two things (objectives and obstacles) need to be front-loaded for a few neat reasons:
1. thinking through the setup forces you to figure out what the key points of your story are BEFORE you start writing. remember, we do not want resume-detail... we just need the elements that show us how you overcame the obstacles to achieve your goal. this helps with focus, and therefore that pesky issue of "word count" [if you find that your essays are bloated beyond recognition, 10 out of 10 times the problem is with a flawed setup]
2. honestly? it makes for a muuuch sexier read---present us with a clear objective and stakes and we are instantly engaged on a visceral level. we are hard-wired to respond to dramatic situations... if setup properly.
happy holidays to everyone. [congratulations you east coasters especially on your exceedingly white christmas.]
wanted to say a few words about essay questions dealing with TEAM FAILURES.
we've been noticing the following pattern. story starts out, sets the stage, describes the "team" and the objective, and then... the failure.
aces. so far so good.
but then----> when the analysis kicks in, it's all about YOU. what you did wrong. how you mismanaged this, and how you neglected to do that, should have done this versus that, etc etc. and just like that, what we end up with is a LEADERSHIP FAILURE story. or a "time when you made a mistake."
for those of you who have been a part of a team led by someone ELSE, and the team failed in some way, the story tends to write itself fairly organically. you were one of many to have contributed to the failure. less complicated.
in many cases however, there are team failure stories where YOU were the leader.
well, keep one thing in mind, and it should keep you out of trouble: if it were alllllll about you and only you, theoretically, you wouldn't have needed anyone else to succeed at the objective. think of any team leader. kobe bryant is the leader of the los angles lakers. or joel robuchon is the leader of his kitchen.
yes, these guys are leaders and in some cases are actually in charge... but unless it's a one-man operation, no leader can actually do the jobs without the help of a team, right?
okay, so let's pull back and identify the TEAM OBJECTIVE. now reveal THAT the team failed to meet that objective. they needed to finish the job at 5pm sharp, they finished it three hours too late. or they needed to produce 100 widgets, they only produced 86. they needed to execute XXX, but they failed to execute XXX.
now, let's figure out how the TEAM failed to do what it was supposed to do. let's say you were the leader and didn't delegate properly. well, you can describe the way the chaos led to inaction or inefficiency or whatever it was, and conclude that that was "bad." now, having said that, you can sink into YOUR ROLE in the matter, you can say, it was on me to delegate, and i shanked it. but don't just stop there---push it through to reveal how that action leads to some type of collapse in team success. if you do that, you'll be golden. what makes a team successful or not successful is star of this essay.
if the entire framework of the essay is "here's how i messed up," then in some ways, you're missing the boat on what teamwork really means. YES you should reveal your hand in it---that's key, of course. but, be sure to couch it in the overall failure of the team's effort.
when it comes time to discuss what you would do next time, or if you could do it all over again, rather than say "i had a chance to redeem myself" you'd wanna say, "we had a second shot, and here's how it was different. i did this and that, this guy did this and that, we were communicating, we were this-ing and that-ing, etc etc... success." show us that you understand that a team is a living breathing beast unto itself, and that you now have a better sense for how to feed that beast, and nurture it, and help IT succeed.
Friends, today we at Precision Essay turn over an entiiiirely new leaf. Kind of.
We have been posting on other Forums quite regularly, but in the heat of the moment (and working with our clients) havent checked this board as frequently as we'd like! But never fear, Jon Frank is here. Founder of Precision Essay, and graduate of the HBS Class of 2005.
We are now back, and in full effect.
One quick note here for everyone's consumption: today I want to talk briefly about the WAIT LIST. Most of our emails have been focused on the best ways to get through the wait list process. We recently achieved success with a client using one method in particular--and I wanted to share it. A client of ours was waitlisted at HKUST. So we laid out a plan of attack--an additional letter, and an additional recommendation. Pretty good for starters. But then, the applicant was made a job offer: the company said, "If you are accepted at HKUST, we will give you a part time job between now and then." After we communicated this info, within two days, our client was admitted at the school!
Big news, eh? Let that be a lesson to ALL of us--nothing is more important to an adcom, than the possibility that you are EMPLOYABLE--whether before, during, or after graduation. In this economy, prove that you can get a job--the adcom will respect that very, very much.
This past weekend, I found myself in snowy New York City, visiting with some old friends (and one former client). Always nice to be back home, and I thought it would be a perfect chance to talk a bit about...Columbia.
As we all know, the Columbia Early Decision Round deadline hits before most other deadlines of note. What does this mean for you? It means that some very, very eager young applicants will submit their work to the school as early as humanly possible, well before any deadline even hits. Forget the fact that the deadline tends to be as early as mid-August. If you are reading this post, and if you are thinking of applying to CBS for next year, mark my words: YOU WANT TO BE ONE OF THOSE APPLICANTS. Apply to CBS early. Every year, countless clients wonder whether it is worth their time to apply to CBS for their Round 2 or 3--and I always think the same thing, sometimes aloud: why didnt you apply sooner!
Let me share just one related story. Last year, a client was accepted at Stanford, HBS, Kellogg--you name it, all in the second round. Why is this significant? Because he was NOT accepted at Columbia during THEIR second round. Why? Because so much of that class is filled with their ED applicants.
If you are thinking of applying to Columbia my friends, time is of the essence. Do all you can to submit for ED, and submit EARLY.
Healthcare. The financial crisis. TONS of new MBAs. Acceptance rates declining, credit crunch, the apocalypse...
Over the past 18 months, we have been overwhelmed by emails from applicants who are ALL asking the same question--"What does it all mean for ME?" And before we even answer that question, I feel it my duty to share just a bit of history here--EVERY year, there are reports of "rising applications," "the future for MBAs in decline," and so forth. Let me provide some advice for you all, my friends, in these challenging times. IGNORE ALL OF IT.
Yep, you heard me. Ignore all of it. You will be bombarded over the coming months with postings, articles, second hand stories, third-hand stories, etc. "The end is nigh," and "Apply now, because if you dont you will be doomed to failure forever," etc. Please, guys. Dont buy it. Dont believe the hype.
Of course there is a financial crisis, and frankly we dont quite understand how wide-spread it is yet. And we wont for months, perhaps even years. BUT WHO CARES? So instead of accepting 10% of applicants, your school of choice will go to 9.5%. Even, god forbid, 9%. How does that affect you? It doesnt. It shouldnt.
The best schools will ALWAYS be competitive. Whether the economy is strong or weak, you will ALWAYS be up against the nation's best and brightest applicants. And guess what? Your application will be EXACTLY the same, regardless of external circumstances.
Just keep your eye on the ball, gang. Dont believe the hype. If the timing is right for you, you will apply to bschool this year. If you have a strong application (and craft your story correctly) you will get in. Just do what youve got to do, and dont drive yourselves too crazy along the way...
Today we will address a veeeery common misconception. It typically sounds something like this, "But I dont want to do marketing. Why should I even consider Kellogg?"
There are so many things wrong with this statement, I dont even know where to begin! But to keep things niiiice and simple, lets focus in on three main issues.
1) Kellogg has a GREAT finance program. Kellogg has a GREAT Organizational Program. There is more to Kellogg than just marketing! There is more to MIT than just tech and entrepreneurship. There is more to Booth than finance--you get the point. These are the best business schools in the world! To say that you need to pursue that one area in order to make the school worth your time is misguided. Cocky, even. The brightest professors in the world work at these schools--in ALL departments. You might even get more personalized attention, if you are at Kellogg and NOT doing marketing, for example...
2) Can you imagine how hard it is to get the Proctor and Gamble job if you are at Kellogg? Can you imagine how hard it is to get a job in Private Equity, if you are a finance guy at Booth? Very, very difficult! Because SO many people go to Kellogg with marketing in mind, obtaining positions in those fields is always very challenging. Hundreds of resumes will flood towards those positions. Now, by the same token, what if you are a finance guy at Kellogg? There will be fewer of you--and the job prospects for you will be less competitive. What if youre a real estate guy at HBS? Again, you will be in a GREAT position to get a job--after all, there wont be very many people fighting for your interviews! HBS only offers two RE classes, and only one when I attended...
3) You may not actually know what you will be doing for a living in five or ten years. I know you think you do--and 50% of the time or so, you will be right! But trust me, the future is a bright, bold, twisting and turning adventure. You dont actually KNOW beyond all doubts what you will be doing in the future. You think you do...but you dont. : ) Truuuuust me. So the idea that you are a finance guy at Kellogg, or a real estate guy at HBS could actually work in your favor. After all, wouldnt it be cool to get the opinions of OTHER people, in OTHER fields, for a couple years?
Keep an open mind, gang. There is more to CBS than finance. There is more to HBS than leadership. You get the point...
Hey gang. Today I want to talk a bit about our friends with MILITARY backgrounds.
Each year we will work with a bunch of military guys (and by the way, as most military folks already know, we offer discounts for anyone brave enough to serve).
Here's the thing though: everything we have always said about "jargon" still applies. Let me share an example. Guys with IT backgrounds may make the following mistake, writing "And then I realized that all I had to do was re-phase the micron chip, and then thanks to my creative thinking, the network reconnected to the Oracle CLM frame at eighty point twenty two jigawatts, its fastest speed in years." This sentence may make sense to its author--but not to the rest of us. JARGON IS OUR ENEMY. The folks reading your apps will not know what anything technical means. Period. Nor should they have to.
Same goes for the military. "I realized that the only way that the commissioned outgoing service officer would understand my orders, would be for me to reach out to our sister battalion commander, who was unfortunately well over fourteen miles south of Obscurania, and twenty miles east of Weirdspotatonia." In this sentence, you have lost your reader--at least three times in a row. What is a commissioned outgoing service officer? What is a sister battalion? Where is Obscurania? While the facts and backgrounds have changed since our IT example, the problems with the essays remain the same. When writing MBA essays, jargon is our real enemy.
As you craft your essays, pretend that you are writing for a very, very smart fourteen year old. Or, pretend that you are writing for, say, your dentist. Don't overestimate the business, technical (or military!) backgrounds of our friends reading the apps on the adcom.
I hope this helps. And of course, Raj and I wish all our military friends nothing but the best of luck, and the fortune to come home safely and soon.
Hey gang. I am writing today because in our work lately, we have found a number of people testing applications' word limits. Let me add juuuust a bit of color to that debate.
Generally, most people have argued that an overage factor of 10% is acceptable. And yes, generally we tend to agree. However, this is not to say that for every single essay, you can shoot for a full 10% overage! First of all, when schools say that the essay should be between 750-1,000 words...don't overshoot the 1,000! They have already provided the overage factor for you. Dont push your luck. If you need more than 1,000 words in this case, as they said in Mr. Mom..."you're doing it wrong."
Secondly, you should not push for an overage in every single one of your essays. If your 1,000 word essay is 1,100, and all your 500 word essays are 550, your application may grow to be thousands of words longer than your peers' would be--and that will NOT work in your favor! Your app will be too long. Period.
Do yourselves a favor, my friends. Shoot for the word limits. If you need to be 10% over, that is fine. But 5% is better. 0% is the best. Given two perfect essays, one at 500 words and the other 10% over at 550, I would pick the 500 word essay seven days a week, and twice on Sunday. Why? Because it will go quicker. And the adcom is, I promise you, in a hurry.