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MBA Application Wisdom From Muhammad Ali

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”  -Muhammad Ali

Right now I’m struggling to get through the essay writing for my applications.  My deadlines are more than a couple of weeks away, which makes it more difficult for me.  I do feel I do my best work under pressure, so I’ve created artificial deadlines with my essay reviewers, but I’ve definitely let a few of those slip.

I’ve finished drafts for two of the essays of my first full application.  While this is good progress, I definitely won’t finish all my intended applications if I move at this pace.  I’m trying my best to make my days “count,” and I’m usually pretty good when I’m in the library, but I get easily distracted when I try to write at home.  After a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is try to be creative.  Part of it comes from procrastination.  Part of it comes from indecisiveness.  I’m really hoping that the first application is the hardest and subsequent ones get easier.

In terms of stumbling blocks, I’ve realized that you have to spend almost as much time cutting down to your word count limit as you do just writing the actual essay.  This is especially true for the short answer questions.  Additionally, while this should’ve been obvious to me, the value of outlining is tremendous.  I didn’t do much outlining when I originally started my essays, but I’m now using them to force myself to commit to an essay answer.

If I had the time, it would be possible for me to spend an entire year writing my essays.  And I still wouldn’t be happy with them.

Deadlines are important.  My first deadline is still about a month away, but I’ve set a “soft” deadline to get a draft to my reviewers to ensure I don’t waste too much time nit picking my own work.  Other people can do that for me.

The “career path / why do you want to go here” question is pretty much part of every essay package I need to write.  The problem is the word length is different for each.  I basically need to tell the same story in 200, 400, and 1000 word count versions.

Low word count limits suck.  It’s really frustrating when you have a great essay to write, but only get to use 250 words to do so.  C’mon, this is my ringer essay!

I scored pretty well in Sentence Correction and I’m feeling the after effects of it on my essays.  I now notice all of my errors in parallelism, dangling modifiers, and subject verb agreement and feel the urge to immediately correct them.

Speaking with alumni makes essay writing easier.  Writing essays is like trying to impress someone on a date.  It’s great when you can do some recon beforehand and figure out what he or she likes.  That way you can tailor your essays and write them with confidence and precision.

My GMAT score feels like it happened 10 years ago.  I know I should gain confidence from it, but the essays have a way of cutting you down to size.

This post is adapted from Random Wok, a blog written by Mako from Silicon Valley. You can read all of his posts at Random Wok.

Previous posts by Mako at PoetsandQuants:

Why I Want an MBA

Climbing the GMAT Mountain: 630 to 710 on a Practice Test

Do Consultants Have An Unfair Edge Over Other Applicants?

Falling Behind & Stressed Out

My New Critical Reasoning Strategy

Figuring Out My Odds of Getting Into Harvard, Stanford, Wharton

With My GMAT Classes Over, It’s Now Just Me and the Test

Making a GMAT Test Taker Feel Like A Complete Pansy

With a Month to Go Before His GMAT Test, It’s Time to Focus

Is The GMAT Really Designed To Break You?

I Took the GMAT Today and Rocked It!

Charting All My GMAT Scores Over Time With Lessons

After Scoring My 750, It’s Now All About Applying