So, I managed to submit two of my applications yesterday. I will leave it to you to guess which two. To me personally, it represents a big milestone as it involved pulling together a myriad of components, essays being the toughest of all. I believe that I have put in a strong application especially since I put in a lot of work in the essays which was one of the only components under my control.
One of my recommenders is yet to submit but I am not too worried about it.
In the end, I really believe that you should give about 15 days per school application. This is only after you have managed to shortlist your schools. Of course, essays of subsequent schools take a little less time because you can reuse the core parts of your earlier essays – that’s a relief !
My plan was to submit a day or two before the deadlines but I submitted quite early and it gives me the confidence to take a shot at a fourth school. I have already started its essays, so it looks like I am going to be applying to four schools after all in Round 1.
Here was my process:
I had been writing and re-writing my essays, discarding multiple drafts, and pruning my essays to the hilt. Given my disinclination to essay writing, I always thought writing 600 words would be a tall order – How would I fill so much space? Now, the problem became the reverse. I struggled to fit my life into the tiny canvas provided by the various schools.
1. Critical readers: Make sure you identify people who can review your essays and give you critical honest feedback. Of course, preferably, such people should have been to business schools or should know the essay process thoroughly; If you don’t have access to such people, identify intelligent and well-meaning friends.
I am lucky to have graduated from a school in India where my friends are not just critical but brutal. From the very first year of college, we have destroyed each other at every given chance only to see everyone emerge as better persons. So, I don’t have a problem in the department of recruiting “critical” readers; I hope you don’t have any problem too.
2. Making every word count: Never will you have to make each word count as in your business school essays. The canvas being so tiny, not just each stroke but each pixel matters. Fluff words have no place. If you think you are having to resort to fluff to fill up space, go back to the drawing board and introspect further. Redundancies are completely forbidden.
3. Personalization: It is important that a majority of the sentences that you use be “personalized”; This means that every sentence should be such that only you could have written it and no one else – Generalizations if necessary must be back up evidence.
4. Outline: Make sure you write an outline before starting an essay. My steps have been as follows:
a. Introspect and write down all possible events, anecdotes, thoughts on an essay. Then choose the best.
b. Create an outline of the essay – 3-4 lines per paragraph
c. Expand on the outline in a brief manner to capture essential thoughts.
d. Write your heart our for each outline
e. Prune ruthlessly
f. Adjust for style and grammar
g. Finalize and send for review.
h. Repeat from step a or b or … or f as per review.
Of course, now that my three applications are in, I have to wait for the interview calls. I am a little worried about them since my career has been such that I haven’t faced too many interviews. I have interviewed many but very few people have had the fortune to interview me. This means that I have to prepare extra hard for interviews and keep my sarci (sarcastic) quotient down. Pretty tough to do.
Anyway, that bridge shall be crossed when I arrive upon it.
This report is adapted from The Phoenix’s blog posts at “The MBA Roller Coaster.” Previous posts on Poets&Quants: