The Ghostwriters of MBA Essays
“My clients are not lazy or trying to be unethical. They work in industries where the hours are really long and writing skills are not emphasized… I think I’m helping people. People who go to these lengths will get the most out of business school.”
That’s Blake Reynolds, founder of a college essay-writing service in New York called Perfect Words, who claims to have written MBA applications essays for 17 clients this fall alone. Edwards spilled the beans in a BusinessWeek story published yesterday. The publication reported that at least two firms–the other is Essaywriter based in England–which actually write, not edit, essays for applications to elite business and other schools.
A GHOSTWRITER OF MBA ESSAYS FOR EIGHT YEARS.
Reynolds told BusinessWeek that he has been ghostwriting MBA admission essays for clients for eight years and has helped applicants get into some of the most elite business schools in the world, including Harvard, Columbia, and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Reynolds says his clients pay between $800 and $3,000, depending on the number of essays a client requests.
He recently distributed fliers around Wall Street and posted ads for his business on the Businessweek.com B-school forums (which have since been removed for violating the terms of service), which presumably tipped off the publication to investigate what schools would consider a violation of ethical standards.
The admissions by officials of these two firms comes on the heels of a Poets&Quants report that several prominent MBA admissions consultants gained access to a Wharton presentation that revealed the six questions interviewers are asking applicants this year.
ONE FIRM CLAIMS TO HAVE 2,500 GHOSTWRITERS WORKING FOR IT.
Essaywriter, based in Leeds, claims that 60 percent of the essays it churns out are for MBA students. With 2,500 writers working for the company and a website easily found in a Google search, Essaywriter writes both admission essays and school assignments for people in a variety of subject areas. David Burton, general manager of Essaywriter, told BusinessWeek that his mostly international candidates have language challenges, while others are more mature applicants or students who have not written in a long time. The firm charges clients $240 per essay.
HARVARD SAYS THE PRACTICE IS UNETHICAL.
Deirdre Leopold, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School, told BusinessWeek that using ghost-written essays was “unethical” and said doing so is not a strategy for success: “Anyone foolish enough to ‘buy’ essays is advised to think a few steps ahead,” she wrote in an e-mail, according to BusinessWeek. “How do they plan to ‘fake’ an interview with one of our admissions officers? Are they purchasing essays in order to camouflage a lack of English fluency—something that is essential for success in our program? As for this consultant’s claims of achieving great success for his/her clients, let the buyer beware.”