A Punch To The Gut: Bad Reviews on His Draft Essays

I’ve spent the past few weeks reaching out to my network and searching for people to review my essays. One of my contacts actually turned out to be a former admissions committee member at a top school. I had no idea of this fact, but he agreed to give my essays a review. Since I hadn’t finished any additional applications yet, he suggested I give him my Haas essays which I had already submitted. I thought it would be great to get this feedback, even though there was nothing I could do about this particular app at this point. (In the back of my mind, I was thinking he was going to be impressed)

A day after I sent them, I got all of my feedback in an email. It wasn’t great. While he really liked two of my essays, the commentary around the others were either lukewarm or downright negative. It was as if I completely “missed the point” on some of these essays.

Now, if I were defending myself, I would argue that my essays definitely presented a well rounded candidate. Regardless of any technicality within the questions, the essays provided a complete and positive view of who I was. And above all, my application and my story would stand out as unique compared to most others.

But looking at his feedback, I can only say that he was right. Some of my essays didn’t address the question on a pinpoint basis. There were definitely ways I could have improved it. For some essays, I did lose sight of the question and was more focused on telling my story. Reading his feedback, especially after I had submitted my apps already and had other MBAs review them as well, was definitely a tough pill to swallow.

Would a school value a candidate with tighter essays over someone who was more of a complete package, but lacked some precision in their essays? Is it more important to tell a great story, or answer a question properly? It’s hard to say. I feel as if my confidence and my view of the admissions process has been jumbled. But I’ve definitely learned quite a bit from this experience:

1. I can’t spend forever writing my essays. Iteration is key because at some point I’ll get tough feedback that will require me to essentially rewrite my essays. I need to focus less time on writing that one “perfect” draft and focus more on getting drafts to tough reviewers.

2. My contact really cares about my candidacy. The fact that he ripped my essays, and the fact that he’s agreed to review my upcoming essays is proof of that. (He’s not charging me or anything like that)

3. I need to let go of my pride when it comes to writing my essays. It’s difficult when you write what is essentially your life story and someone tells you it’s not good enough. But at the end of the day, my goal is to get into business school. I need to be able to take the feedback I’m given, regardless of how drastic, and try to improve my candidacy towards my goal.

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

MBA Applications Wisdom from Muhammad Ali

Facing A Gauntlet of Round Two Deadlines

Should Everyone Apply to Harvard Business School?

The Final Click Is The Hardest Click: Sending In My Application

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