Just One MBA Essay Shy Of Being Done

So, after several days of feverish button mashing and tedious edits, I’ve ended up being just one essay away from having all of my R1 non-consortium essays done. Of course, there will still be edits and iterations after what I have; however, each set of essays that I’ve completed thus far is solid enough where I neither see myself making major changes to the content nor structure.

Also, all of them have been “approved” by folks who are either alumni or current students at top 10 (top 5, actually) business schools. Having folks who are experienced at crafting effective MBA essays to critique, bash and rip my essays apart has been the leading factor that has contributed to the relative speed at which I have been able to come up with acceptable drafts–not my writing.

The feedback was harsh, but eventually I was able to internalize a certain rhythm and set of rules that began to make my essays come together the way they were supposed to. No matter how many qualified folks review your essays, however, it is difficult to shake that worrisome feeling of “will these be good enough?”

At any rate, here’s how things break down for me going into August:

Essays for R1 (non-consortium) Schools:

Wharton – 3/3

MIT – 3/3 (includes cover letter)

HBS – 1/2

Stanford – 3/3

My final HBS essay (Tell us about something you wish you had done better) may take me a week or two to get half right. It leans heavily toward introspection, and I expect similar pain and discomfort to what I experienced while bloodying my nose trying to pull together my Stanford What Matters Most essay.

There is also an addtional MIT essay that I plan to take advantage of; but since it is not required, I have not included it in the count above.

Applications (Data):

HBS – 95% done

Stanford – 95% done

Wharton – Opens 8/1

MIT – Opens 8/1

Consortium – Opens sometime in August

A Full Dance Card for August

Since my previous post a few days ago, I’ve put a few more dates on the calendar. I was able to scoop up a face-to-face (diversity event) with Wharton adcom members (finally!) and applied for Tuck’s Diversity Conference, which is actually in November.

Later in August I’ll have diversity events for Berkeley and Stanford here in LA as well as the Riordan event with adcom reps from 10-15 top b-schools. I will also be managing my recommendations and moving into some moderate GMAT study to see if I feel like getting in the ring one more time.

MBAOver30 offers the perspective of a 30-something, California-based entrepreneur who is applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern, Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Southern California. He hopes to gain acceptance to the Class of 2015 and blogs at MBAOver30.

Previous posts on Poets&Quants:

How I Totally Overestimated The MBA Admissions Process
Musings on MBA Failophobia
Letting Go Of An MBA Safety School
When A Campus Visit Turns Off An MBA Applicant
Yale, Tuck and Booth: The Next Leg of My Pre- MBA Research
 My Countdown: Less Than 30 Days To The GMAT
From Suits To Startups: Why MBA Programs Are Changing
Why I’m Not Getting Either A Part-Time MBA or An Executive MBA
Preparing To Sit For The GMAT Exam
Falls Short of GMAT Goal, But The 700 Is A Big Improvement
A 2012-2013 MBA Application Strategy
Celebrating A 35th Birthday & Still Wanting A Full-Time MBA
A Tuck Coffee Chat Leaves Our Guest Blogger A Believer
Heading Into the August Cave: Getting Those Round One Apps Done

  • Jude

    I am curios about one aspect of your essay peer review- Are the same group of people reviewing all your essays?

  • Guest


    That’s only true at some schools.  For instance, most schools won’t start reviewing Round 1 applications until the deadline is past, in which case there’s no advantage to submitting a few weeks early.

    However, some schools like Columbia review and render decisions on a rolling basis, in which case it is very much to your advantage to submit early (if you’re ready, of course). 

    Other schools don’t render decision on a rolling basis, but like Cornell for instance, will review applications as they come in meaning, if your ready, you’ll have fresh eyes reading your essays since most wait until the deadline – unclear are to how advantageous this is.

  • That will depend on the app. I will submit each when its ready; meaning, there’s nothing else that I can do within a reasonable time frame to make them better. I think one reason why most people skirt deadlines in this process is because they underestimate the time that will be needed for review and hairline tweaks. I actually fell victim to that with the GMAT, which is why I’m ended up under the median at some schools (it burns me just to think about that). I have no delusion that my progress means that I’ll be wrapping a bow on these babies a month or two before the deadlines. I will in all likelihood spend just as much time reviewing and making edits from a broader view of how my app looks as a whole and what it communicates about me from 10,000 feet than I did initially getting everything to the “final edit” point.

  • Tzeentch99

     Will you submit significantly before the deadline? I’ve read somewhere that supposedly that ups your chances but not sure if that is true.

  • Hey Tzeentch99. “Finish” is a strong word. I don’t consider any essay 100% ready; however, I definitely don’t see any of them changing more than 10%. I spent about a month’s time getting to this point as well. One of the reasons that I got to this point fairly quickly is that I write all the time anyway. From the blog to writing marketing copy at work to a book that I finished several months ago its just a well-used muscle. That helps me gather and arrange ideas faster because I’ve done hours and hours of writing and editing recently; however, the biggest factor is the friends that I’ve had to edit and critique what I’ve written. All of them got into multiple top programs with great essays and they pretty much rip any new essay that I have to shreds right away. I think this compresses my time frames more than anything else. One essay that may have taken me 3 weeks to get just right gets there in 5 days when you have two excellent writers putting it before the firing squad back-to-back. Additionally, I can be obsessive about these things because I hate to ride deadlines so whenever I get feedback I tend not to go to sleep until I’ve implemented the edits and done my reworks that same night. One of my friends/editors literally called me “crazy” because I was wearing her out with how quickly I got back to her with each edit after she’d given me a ton of constructive feedback. I’m the same way with the apps. Since that blog post my Wharton and MIT apps are all done except for the essays being uploaded and recommendations being in; however, MIT’s essay only took 1/3 of the time of the others because they ask virtually nothing about your work experience or extracurricular activities in the actual app, which I found odd.

  • Tzeentch99

    Just curious as to how you were able to finish all those essays so damn fast. I started about a month ago and I’m only 45% through. How many drafts do you do on average?