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Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not?

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I think name dropping is....

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Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 18:18
I've finished four out of my fives essays so far and I haven't included the names of any of the students or alumni I've talk to. I do mention that I've talked to either current students or alumni, but I don't include names. Both Montauk's and Bodine's book have sample essays where the writers mention talking to "John Smith Class of '06".

To me, it's kinda like saying "I'm not just a consultant, I work for McKinsey." Yes, working for McKinsey is impressive, however bringing it up when no one asked just sounds pretentious.

For all of you who did include names, don't take offense at my comments!
I'm sure you were able to include name in a much more appropriate fashion than I would be able to.

I should mention that I did "name drop" during interviews. Does that make me a hypocrite? :wink:

Anyways, I'm just curious how many of your guys put names in your essays and what your opinion on the matter is....

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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 18:31
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refurb wrote:
To me, it's kinda like saying "I'm not just a consultant, I work for McKinsey." Yes, working for McKinsey is impressive, however bringing it up when no one asked just sounds pretentious.


First off, it's hard to sound pretentious in an admissions essay. The point of the admissions essay is to showcase your accomplishments as much as possible. There is no tact necessary - this isn't a cocktail party.

I put names in every single goals essay that I've written so far. They lend credibility to the fact that you've been doing your research and that you're a real person. The adcom reads hundreds of essays that basically say the same stuff, it certainly helps to have this differentiator in there, as well as any other differentiators that you may be able to sneak in to make your goals essay stand out.

I guess it also really depends on the context of your goals. If you're currently working for Google and plan to stay in the technology industry, and you're applying to Berkeley and Stanford, I don't think it really matters if you mention names or not - your path is fairly straight forward and will not raise any eyebrows.

Where this tactic comes in handy is if you're a career switcher. If you really want to switch from engineering to investment banking, it will lend a lot of credibility to your goals essay if you can mention that you've spoken to someone at your target school who made the same switch and learned about their experiences. It will show that you went the extra mile, and this is really the least you need to showcase if you're making a drastic career switch in this kind of economy.

Lastly, this tactic really only works if it makes sense and fits in with the rest of your essay. If you just mention at the end of the essay that you met XYZ alum at the info session in your city, who is in a completely different field and has nothing in common with you, it will come off as trying too hard. If you speak to and "name drop" students that are leaders in clubs you are interested in joining, students and alums who are working at the companies, fields, and industries you are interested in targeting, or faculty/professors that teach courses that interest you or run programs/departments that interest you, it will definitely be an added bonus to your application.

Alright, enough from me. I'm not even an admitted student. I should shut up :)
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 19:00
agold wrote:
Where this tactic comes in handy is if you're a career switcher. If you really want to switch from engineering to investment banking, it will lend a lot of credibility to your goals essay if you can mention that you've spoken to someone at your target school who made the same switch and learned about their experiences. It will show that you went the extra mile, and this is really the least you need to showcase if you're making a drastic career switch in this kind of economy.

Lastly, this tactic really only works if it makes sense and fits in with the rest of your essay. If you just mention at the end of the essay that you met XYZ alum at the info session in your city, who is in a completely different field and has nothing in common with you, it will come off as trying too hard. If you speak to and "name drop" students that are leaders in clubs you are interested in joining, students and alums who are working at the companies, fields, and industries you are interested in targeting, or faculty/professors that teach courses that interest you or run programs/departments that interest you, it will definitely be an added bonus to your application.


Good points. I never really thought about the first one, maybe because I haven't met another person with the same background as me, let alone the same post-MBA goals.

I think your last paragraph sums it up well. Well developed "name dropping" solves two problems, it eliminates the appearance of trying to hard and it adds credibility to your statements.

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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 19:19
Agreed; I think it does add credibility, particularly when you are discussing how you know a program's a good fit for you/how you've gotten to know the program. I think the only time it's kind of annoying is when you're dropping the president of your company's name when it's not relevant. Showing you have general proximity to a well-known and successful person doesn't make you well-known or successful.

I will say that in all my friends' business school essays that 99% of them name dropped students they met, professors who's classes they sat in on, and it was always done in a natural, tasteful way. I think it's a common practice.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 19:55
I would say only if it adds value and you are sure of it. If not, its wasted words (and better saved for an interview) since they can see beyond simple name dropping.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 20:05
Since you mentioned that "name dropping" involves the alums and students that you've talked to, I am going to say this.

Unless the student or the alum is really famous, I don't really see the point of including the name in the essay. For example, let's say I am part of the adcom committee who is reading your essay. If the student or the alum isn't famous, I will be like, "Who is this person? It doesn't ring a bell."

Now if the case involves a influential student or alum that can make an impact on their decision process, I think you should drop those names. After all, if Jenna Bush's ex-highschool boyfriend got into HBS without an undergrad college degree thanks to GW connection, I am sure there are other schools (besides HBS) that would do this.

I think you can judge for yourself and say, "Including this person's name or revealing my relationship with this person might affect the adcom's decision to a degree..." or vice versa.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 20:39
Stern's essays practically demand name dropping people you've talked to at the school. Otherwise, I echo what people have said... If it's appropriate and not forced go for it.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 20:46
In an essay, it can be harder to pull off successfully. Like others have said, if name dropping makes sense in the context of the essay, it makes sense to try. If you're just name dropping for the sake of indicating that you spoke with an alum, I think it's better to avoid including it in the essay. Most schools have a section on the app that says "Current Student or Alum you spoke with" (or something to that effect)...

I think one way to check if the name-dropping is odd, is to have someone else read your essay. See if they comment on the name-dropping being out of context, etc.

That being said, I think it's a good idea to name drop in an interview - something like "I'm really looking forward to participating in X. Alum Y mentioned that it really helped yada yada". It's much easier to pull off as well...

hope this helps :)
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 21:48
I never considered it name dropping as I wasn't trying to get credit for the students name in the essays. However, in every goals essay I mentioned one or two of the students I reached out to. I also mentioned what I reached out to the for (clubs, recruiting, culture, etc.) and also said what I learned from them. I did this to show the schools that this was not a cookie cutter essay and I really did my homework on the school.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2008, 21:55
cpgmba wrote:
I never considered it name dropping as I wasn't trying to get credit for the students name in the essays. However, in every goals essay I mentioned one or two of the students I reached out to. I also mentioned what I reached out to the for (clubs, recruiting, culture, etc.) and also said what I learned from them. I did this to show the schools that this was not a cookie cutter essay and I really did my homework on the school.


Same.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 05:50
ac8706 wrote:
Most schools have a section on the app that says "Current Student or Alum you spoke with" (or something to that effect)...


Only my Ross application had that section and yes I did "name drop" heavily in that section. I mean since they were asking.... :wink:

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I think one way to check if the name-dropping is odd, is to have someone else read your essay. See if they comment on the name-dropping being out of context, etc.


Good point. Whenever I thought of putting a name in, it always seemed to come across as being forced. I always pictured the adcom thinking "that was out of place". However, I'm sure you guys are much better writers than I am and could make it work.

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That being said, I think it's a good idea to name drop in an interview - something like "I'm really looking forward to participating in X. Alum Y mentioned that it really helped yada yada". It's much easier to pull off as well...


Exactly! It seems a lot more natural during an interview, probably because there isn't a word limit!

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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 08:39
I think professors are definitely ok to name-drop if you've talked to them, attended a class, or just want to take them. I think students or alumni, unless they are famous, will be kind of out of place in an essay. I think your research and your student connections should come out in what you say in your essays. You don't have to provide your evidence. Also, by you asking this question, there may be some people that may think negatively about it. You have to analyze the risk/reward of any risky element you put in your essay. Some people may think negatively about it, so is it worth that chance since the name dropping will probably only have a neutral outcome on your app?

I think you should take risks in your apps. But risks that have the rewards of an admit or significant positive outcome on your app.

However in all reality, it probably won't make a diff either way. lol
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 11:15
I personally left out names. I agree with Agold on the career switchers but, outside of that, I think there are a lot of ways to show you researched the school. That said, I know a lot of people attending M7 that dropped names in their essays.

The best way to name drop is to get one of the people worthy of name dropping to write your letter of rec.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 12:03
To whoever voted "..another annoying topic that refurb feels a need to post about"...

:thanks

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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 14:06
I named dropped a few professors which I was really interested in....but no students.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 15:07
I think, as a few other people have said, it all depends on whether it comes across as a natural part of the essay or as blatant name-dropping. I for one didn't put any names in my essays, but did mention professors' names during interviews when talking about specific classes I either visited or was excited about taking at the school.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 17:39
alrighty, I'll weigh in my 2 cents. :)

I "name-dropped" in every single one of my applications, generally in the essay that asks you "why MBA" or "Why X School?". I agree with what agold said, it should be relevant and show that you've done your homework. I generally put it in like, "After speaking with XYZ of the Technology Club, I learned from him that School X is very good at blah blah blah..." As long as you're not forcefully putting in as many names as possible, you'll be fine. If you spoke with student leadership in clubs that fit your career goals, mention the names of those student leaders. If you spoke with an alum, it's optional to put in the name (unless it's someone famous, as people have mentioned). I did, and it didn't really hurt me.

But like everything else, don't go overboard with names such that your essay reads like a honor-roll list. :P

I voted "something you don't need to worry that much over...", so just make it work and move on to the next step of this process. :)
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 19:02
I drop some names on my interview to show that I'm a good fit for the school. Of course the name-dropping should seamlessly blends into the essay. Just make sure that you don't put the names in just for the sake of "showing" it. Make it relevant to your essay (probably you're interested to join the club s/he lead, or you have the same background, or that you have the same aspiration, etc).

I voted for "something you don't need to worry too much over..." since it will only make a slight difference in the eyes of the adcom.
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not? [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2008, 20:09
Leverandon wrote:
Stern's essays practically demand name dropping people you've talked to at the school. Otherwise, I echo what people have said... If it's appropriate and not forced go for it.


I don't think that is necessarily true (though I know that it happens regularly - especially some students). That said, I think the point is wise to mention who you spoke with. It adds credibility - "having spoken to some current students" vs "having spoken to some current students, including xxx & yyy" - they can really quickly recognize names from the school, clubs - and check if they really want. But it adds a level of assurance to things.

I don't think it is critical - I never did it, but I think it is not a bad thing (and is probably quite wise, in retrospect).
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Re: Name dropping in your essays, good idea or not?   [#permalink] 15 Dec 2008, 20:09
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