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Interesting article re: application essays

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Interesting article re: application essays [#permalink] New post 29 Sep 2006, 19:32
As people that frequent the GMATclub may know, I have made many comments regarding how much I hate it when people say "your score is in the range, just work hard on your essays!" The reality is, everyone thinks that they will have great essays and recommendations, but by definition most people will have average essays and recommendations. Here's a link to an article from the WSJ that shows that what constitutes a great essay is very much up for interpretation.

http://www.careerjournal.com/reports/bs ... orber.html

The link shows the essay of a successful MBA applicant (used with his permission) and the comments of Adcoms from Tuck, NYU & Chicago GSB. The admissions consultant blogger that referenced the link entitled his reference "If you ever wondered why admissions is such a crapshoot". I couldn't agree more - and these are comments of the top adcoms at these schools. What if your essay is ready by an overworked 2nd year? You definitely need great essays to get into top business schools, but it's d@mn hard to define what great is.

Just remember, if you work hard and improve your GMAT by 30 or 50 or 100, then it's right there in black and white. If you work hard an write an outstanding essay, well, let's just say that everyone might not see it the same way.
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 [#permalink] New post 29 Sep 2006, 19:50
Yeah very true.... Wharton told me that they have rejected several 800 GMAT applicants.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2006, 08:28
Honestly, thats the most unnerving thing I've ever read.

What a crapshoot, honestly. The differences between the two essays, quite frankly, don't appear that substantial. Yes, I'd agree the second seems better, more about himself, but not singificantly better.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2006, 11:31
Yeah, when you are relating personal experiences in a format that's very subjective like an essay, there will probably be very little consistency in the end result. I do not know if most schools read essays blind from the rest of the application, but it's also pretty easy to imagine that certain essays start to look better or worse based on the rest of the application. For example, if someone has a 3.9 GPA, high 700s GMAT, 6.0 AWA, 5 years work experience at Goldman Sachs with lots of promotions, and loads of extracurriculars, an essay might "appear" a lot more appealing. If somoeone has a 2.9, low 600s, 3.5 AWA and 2 years of work experience at a common non-leadership job, the exact same essay might not look as good.

I think it is because essays are so subjective that people seem to believe that you can just "go write great essays". Unfortunately, not everyone can write great essays even if they work hard. And the most frightening part is that even if you do work your @ss off and write great essays, you may not be rewarded with positive marks from Adcoms. On, the other hand, if you work your @ss off and gain some ground on the GMAT (or GPA, but it's too late for most of us) then it's tangible and not subjective.

You also have to account for the fact that the initial read of your essays, at most schools as I understand it, could be with any of a number of adcoms or a 2nd year volunteer or whatever. Of all the details in your background and all the possible writing styles you can utilize, which ones are going to work? Here's hoping we all have a little luck this year.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2006, 16:08
While great essays can sometimes be difficult to define, awful ones tend to be easy to spot (especially when they have numerous technical errors). I have observed two common weak essay patterns:


1) Some weak essays result from the writer just not having a very compelling story to tell.

2) Other essays writers have impressive achievements but express them in such a clumsy way that the message is obscured.

Revision or rephrasing is unlikely to do much to help essays that fall under pattern 1.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2006, 19:58
That is so true Hjort. The essay is just the vehicle for conveying information about your background. If you don't have anything interesting to talk about, it just doesn't matter how hard you work on your essays, you are still not likely to impress Adcoms that see apps from dozens of hot-shots day after day.
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2006, 18:31
I read through the article and I sure don't want to overthink this anymore. Essays are subjective, but I think one area where we do have some influence is the flow and style of writing. At the end of the day, what the reader construes as a good essay may not be what the article, or for that matter any article states.

Back to my essays, the adcom thinks what I have to say is interesting. Right now I don't know my @ss from my elbow (thank you Pelihu, for that nice @ sleight of hand to prevent the forum filters ;) )
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 [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2006, 08:24
Hmm.. The article seems to be broken... I reallly want to read it too!
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 [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2006, 10:24
I just checked the link and it is still good.

Necromonger, I believe you are right. I think a good and interesting writing style could really pay dividends. These adcoms are reading hundreds if not thousands of answers to the exact same question. If every essay looks like "I led X people in a project where we did Y"; "I participated in X charity and did Y", etc.; I would imagine that it would be really hard to remember anything distinctive about any applicant after a while.

Now, if you have something in your background that really stands out, that's obviously the best thing. But if you can write in a way that catches the adcoms eye and makes them pay attention for a few minutes, that could really work to your advantage too. I was actually thinking of doing something crazy with one of my mid-line applications; maybe write all the essays in poetry verse or something. That would get their attention. I don't want to ruin my chances at a dream school, and I don't want to get my application thrown out at a backup, but maybe one of those in the middle will get the special treatment.
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Marketing [#permalink] New post 10 Dec 2006, 22:33
Essays are about marketing. Marketing yourself.

As explained by Hjort, you can't do much about your experiences, unless you are intending to apply at least a year from now. But, you can do a lot to present these experiences in an attractive way.

Cheers. L.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Dec 2006, 18:42
I know that this an older thread but I really enjoyed looking over the essays. It was interesting to see the two different essays and the adcoms thoughts.

I would however say that it's pretty obvious that essay 2 is superior to essay 1. I'm a bit surprised some of you can't see the differences in tone, feel, focus. I would go one further though and say that essay 2 is still only about a B not an A- or A because of some poor phrasing and word choice.

Do you think that the first essay is truly a typical application essay or was it specifically dumbed down? If it is typical, then I guess the various articles I've read that say 80% of application essays are bad are true.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Dec 2006, 19:48
Quote:
Do you think that the first essay is truly a typical application essay or was it specifically dumbed down? If it is typical, then I guess the various articles I've read that say 80% of application essays are bad are true.

I would be interested to hear about this as well. If those are typical essays, then I'm feeling pretty good about my essays.
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I think they are carefully chosen examples [#permalink] New post 11 Dec 2006, 20:02
From the information in the website, it appears as if they are examples chosen on purpose to make a point. They might have been actual essays but not necessarily representative.

Additionally, if there is a real applicant behind these, he or she submitted essay B and A was just a draft never submitted. So I would not count on many other applicants submitting sub-par essays.

Cheers. L.
I think they are carefully chosen examples   [#permalink] 11 Dec 2006, 20:02
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