Harvard currently requires all applicants to write four essays: 1) Tell us about three of your accomplishments (600 words); 2) Tell us three setbacks you have faced (600 words); 3) Why do you want an MBA? (400 words), and 4) Answer a question you wish we’d asked (400 words). Joint-degree applicants are asked to answer an additional question: How do you expect the joint degree experience to benefit you on both a professional and a personal level? (400 words).
The first market MBA Bee is targeting, in fact, is the military. Today, the group launched its first website, ArmedForcesMBA.com, where it is selling separate set of essays for $100 each from successful Harvard applicants from each of five services: the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines Corps, and Navy. An introductory offer on the site cuts the price in half to $50 for a set of essays.
TRYING TO GAIN PROOF OF CONCEPT BY FIRST OFFERING IT TO MILITARY APPLICANTS
Why start with military applicants? “The barrier for gaining these essay sets is pretty high,” explains Jack Lysinger, 32, a first year student who had been a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy for more than nine years. “Military personnel are raised in a culture where they are taught to help others before they help themselves. I thought they would be more willing to give up their essays to help other people.”
As an inducement to students to turn over their essays, Lysinger says the group plans to donate a significant portion of its profits to charities related to non-traditional backgrounds. “As a proof of concept, we plan to donate a portion of profits from ArmedForcesMBA.com to the wounded warrior project,” he says.
In an FAQ on the site, the team of students tends to disavow the use of their service to plagiarize essays. “It is not to anyone’s advantage to copy and paste sections of someone else’s essay,” according to the statement. “Those who plagiarize will simply find themselves in the reject pile.”
“We do think this is a very big market,” says Lam. “For people who apply to business school there are a lot of services they will go out and seek and use.”