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# What makes stellar essays?

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Director
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31 Oct 2007, 11:10
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I can't really explaiin what makes great essays, but when I see it, I know it.

What do you think makes your essays standout besides having the obvious unique background.
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31 Oct 2007, 11:42
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KUDOS

you
details
you
details
you
details

The "you" should be passionate and the "details" should be very specific.

"In 2003 I got a job at GlobalOmniAwesome-O. Six-months later, I was promoted to chief of the spelunking division... I want an MBA to further my career..."

are death sentences.

She loaned me a book of successful Harvard essays and it's amazing how different they are. Despite that, they all 1) answer the question 2) tell the reader about the applicant as a person 3) tell the reader about the applicant as a professional.

She also cautioned me about using warmed-over prior essays adapted to to others schools. She claims the adcoms can smell it from a mile away (even little words like aspiration vs. goal let them know you wrote the essay to answer another school's question first). As a result, I started every essay from scratch, even if I used the same subject matter twice.
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31 Oct 2007, 11:13
I would love to answer, but unfortunately I dont think my essays are stellar by any means as evidenced by the lack of interview invites so far.

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31 Oct 2007, 11:26
I would become an admissions consultant if I knew the answer to that- better \$'s
Director
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31 Oct 2007, 11:34
when you read the essay and go.. "duhh.. I should have written this" or "how can I plagiarize this line without anyone noticing"
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31 Oct 2007, 11:42
It's like the criteria for judging whether something is art or pornography. I'll know it when I see it!

But seriously, an essay that is detailed, shows excitement/passion, not too wordy, to the point, and well structured usually does well with the adcom. If anyone has to re-read the paragraph or essay again because they had a "WTF" moment, that's not good.
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31 Oct 2007, 11:57
I agree with almost everything DrivinWest said, except for the "starting every essay from scratch" part.

That issue has been debated to death, but again, if you satisfy the requirements of:

2. Be specific
4. Show your excitement for the school
5. Clearly demonstrate you need an MBA

It doesn't really matter whether you wrote an essay from scratch or reused portions of a previous essay. Even the adcoms said that they can smell a reused essay from a mile away, but they don't really mind if you answer the question completely.

I did make sure I changed "goals" to "aspirations" for my schools, even though I still used "goals" because it made more sense than repeating "aspirations" 10 times (i.e. I used word diversity, synonyms).

Otherwise, I reused bits and pieces of my essays here and there for all my schools. Who knows if I'll get into any of them, but I did check multiple times that the essays as a whole answer the question.
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31 Oct 2007, 12:19
A stellar essay is one that the adcoms remember. If you are a borderline candidate profile wise and your essays are memorable (in a good way) when it comes time to fill up the rest of the class you are going to have people pulling for you.

The last thing you want to do is be forgettable. Having ones that would work for 500 other people probably isn't a good way to have "stellar" essays either.
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31 Oct 2007, 12:27
riverripper wrote:
A stellar essay is one that the adcoms remember. If you are a borderline candidate profile wise and your essays are memorable (in a good way) when it comes time to fill up the rest of the class you are going to have people pulling for you.

The last thing you want to do is be forgettable. Having ones that would work for 500 other people probably isn't a good way to have "stellar" essays either.

But river, in this case how would you define "stellar"?

An essay that is lucid and presents the ideas in vivid detail, or
An essay that is filled with creativity and imagination, or
An essay that according to kryzak is like enduring root canal (too technical, boring, but very planned and answers questions to the point).

I believe a good essay is one that answers the question correctly. Correctly as in leaving no doubts in the ad-com's mind and not making anyone pose "but, if, why" questions.

I agree that the essay has to make a positive impression on the reader's mind. It has to be strong to make the reader go wow.. that was good
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31 Oct 2007, 12:30
Funny this question came up. I was actually wondering a while back if any gmat club members - who got into schools of their choice (ivy, etc) would post their essays... obviously, removing names.... even posting drafts of essays which they submitted - just to give other gmatclubbers an idea of what worked for them...

I think that would be so helpful to the group as a whole.
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31 Oct 2007, 12:37
TimeSquareDesi wrote:
Funny this question came up. I was actually wondering a while back if any gmat club members - who got into schools of their choice (ivy, etc) would post their essays... obviously, removing names.... even posting drafts of essays which they submitted - just to give other gmatclubbers an idea of what worked for them...

I think that would be so helpful to the group as a whole.

This idea has been implemented and I think Praet is the right guy to talk about it. We have not had much success from 07ers but hopefully the curret batch, once done with apps, invites and admits will post some essays.
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31 Oct 2007, 12:43
There are books out there with plenty of good essays. You should check that out.
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31 Oct 2007, 12:46
Obviously you need to answer the question but I wouldn't worry about getting every little word right as much as the vision right. Find your strengths and play to them. I had a very unique background so I used that, its not a typical MBA path, so I tried to turn that into a positive. If you come from a very tough demographic you are going to have to sell that you are "better" than all those others.

Remember you aren't competing against the entier pool of applicants because no school is going to fill up their class with 80% IB or 90% consultants. They want a balance so in reality you are competing against the people like you who are hoping to get into the Y% of seats they set aside for people of that background. Thats why the rumor is that Indians have such a tough hill to climb because a lot have similar stories, academics, work, backgrounds, etc...

So if everyone who is an IT person is writing about how great they are at developing this program and they do it in record time then you don't want to be part of the crowd. You do have to be honest but you also need to make an impact. I think thats why everyone talks so much about extracurriculars, that is what seperates people from the crowd of similar folks.

However, standing out has two problems. 1) you can totally fall on your face by being too far outside the box (my fear) or 2) it can come across as a bunch of BS.
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31 Oct 2007, 14:50
like river said, you gotta be unique yet still fit in... paradoxical? Yes, but it's a find line to tread.

The essay vault will probably be filled by us 08'ers, so don't expect much until results start coming in during winter/spring. I plan to put a couple of mine, including first drafts (I cringe when I read them!) and final drafts in there, depending on Praet wants to control the access and which schools I get into.

As for background, my background is somewhat less impacted, somewhat in the same realm as river (being in the defense industry), but I still talk more about my non-technical work, where I lead a cross-functional group, do business development, or the myriad of team/mentoring/teaching extracurriculars I do outside of work. The goal is to stand out as an engineer who's "not typical", and someone who works for a big company but has found niches everywhere to work in.
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31 Oct 2007, 14:51
When, a week after reading it, I remember something from it.
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31 Oct 2007, 15:17
kryzak wrote:
The essay vault will probably be filled by us 08'ers, so don't expect much until results start coming in during winter/spring. I plan to put a couple of mine, including first drafts (I cringe when I read them!) and final drafts in there, depending on Praet wants to control the access and which schools I get into.

I have a few essays that I think would be funny to put up to see how much they evolve. I think I will hold off until next summer to post them though. I wouldn't want to affect later rounds this year if any of our friends are on waitlists (including me haha).

This of course all hinges on having a little bit of success. Which at this point is still up in the air.
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31 Oct 2007, 15:49
oh boy, do we all know it. I don't think I can relax until I get into at least a school and pay my deposit. Like rhyme said, 412 days of hell may be over then and only then.
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31 Oct 2007, 16:51
kryzak wrote:
oh boy, do we all know it. I don't think I can relax until I get into at least a school and pay my deposit. Like rhyme said, 412 days of hell may be over then and only then.

That reminds me:

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31 Oct 2007, 17:33
Hahah rhyme ... where do you get the time ???
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31 Oct 2007, 18:17
LOL, funny thing is, I *just* dug that comic strip up from last year's threads and was going to ask rhyme about it.

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