Writing MBA Essays During Thanksgiving Week
The Pilgrims Had it Easy
Earlier today, my mind wandered as I smelled the sweet aroma of German chocolate cake baking in my mom’s oven. “I wonder what gave the Pilgrims and the indigenous Americans the time to indulge in a feast so elaborate that it started a holiday (before the former murdered 90% of the population of the latter; but that’s another essay)”, I thought. The answer was simple: none of them were applying to top business schools.
Dusting Off my Brain Again
“Is anybody home? Yeah, I”m talking to you, brain. It’s time to begin writing essays again.”
When I wrapped up my final essay for Sloan about a month ago, I could not have been happier. I had been a slave to essays for just over two months with little rest. My brain was fried; creativity tapped.
I had, in fact taken one small break after submitting back-to-back apps to Harvard, Chicago, Wharton and then Stanford. I needed that much to recollect my thoughts so that my MIT application would not suffer from a lack of quality (whether or not I get an interview invite will communicate whether the ad com felt I was successful at that!).
Learning from Past Experiences
I gained a great deal of knowledge and wisdom while experiencing the pleasure and pain of writing 5 sets of MBA applications and essays during round one. I’ve also rolled over in bed a few times, agonizing about a few points that I wish I had positioned in a stronger manner; or those that I wished I had been more subtle about.
Such is the creative process. There is ALWAYS something that we wish we could change next. Our thoughts and perspectives are continually shifting and evolving.
Going into my R2 applications, however, I feel well prepared for tackling my essays in a manner that will effectively answer each question while infusing salient points about my character, personality and fit for the school within those answers.
An Anniversary of Sorts
Looking through some old emails recently made me realize that Thanksgiving technically marks the 1 year anniversary of my MBA journey. A year ago today, I was putting the finishing touches onto my application for MLT, an organization I had only heard about a few weeks prior.
Little did I know it, but I was about to get my first lesson in the dangers of applying during Round 3. I was also about to be called “old” for the first time in my life (that actually mattered).
While I had heard a whisper or two about the Round 3 bit, I was completely blind sighted by the age thing. I had yet to visit any MBA blogs, chat rooms or community sites. And a friend of mine from undergrad was in her first year at Kellogg after graduating from MLT.
At the time, we both had 11 years of experience; though, she had applied to the program with 9. My rejection letter explicitly stated that having over 7 should definitely be looked at as a possible reason for a third round ding.
During that same week, I was signing up to get email notices from several West Coast schools before going on my tour of the 4 Top 25 programs that are in California. I did so not because I was dead set on going to school on this side of the country (most of the schools that I’ve actually applyied to are on the east coast. I”m regionally agnostic as long as I end up in either New England, Chicago or the San Francisco Bay), but because it was just convenient to start that way.
The Consortium Eases the Pain
My one saving grace in Round 2 will be that I’ll be focusing on Consortium schools. Three of the programs that have caught my interest just happen to be members of The Consortium: Berkeley Haas, Dartmouth (Tuck), and Yale SOM. Thank the Lord.
What makes applying to Consortium schools special is that you get to apply to up to 6 schools on one common application. Each school has the option to require that you write additional essays; however, most of the supplemental essays are fairly compact this year. Some schools don’t even require additional essays, as the common app itself does require that you write 2 of the standard MBA essays.
My original plan included applying to my Consortium schools during Round 1; however, I chose to move this app to Round 2 based on two stark realizations. The first was that I was in way over my head thinking that I was going to apply to 7 schools in one round–even if some of them were in the Consortium. The second was that most of the programs that I was interested in consider all Consortium applicants at once during February or March; thus, there would be no real advantage to applying during the first round.
My New Discovery at Kellogg
Initially, I wasn’t sure about my connection to Kellogg. This had a lot to do with the fact that I had not heard as much about entrepreneurship there as i had at other schools. Then I stumbled across their Launch Pad Initiative during my research. All of a sudden, the school has my attention.
When I decided to use each school’s entrepreneurial support system (or lack thereof) as my litmus test for whether I’d bother to apply, I thought my job would be easy. Most entrepreneurs scoff at MBA programs as breeding grounds for corporate types–not innovators. I’ve found that nothing could be further from the truth; and what a pleasant surprise it has been.
One Final Stand
I”m happy to know that rain or shine, 100% of my days of writing MBA essays will be behind me in about a month. So, as soon as my (2nd or 3rd) plate of turkey, stuffing and casserole has been cleaned tomorrow, you can bet good money that I’ll be typing away. Happy Holidays.