Heading Into The August Cave: Getting Those Early Round Apps Done

A Detailed App/Essay Breakdown

On my birthday, I announced that my Wharton working drafts were done. I started with Wharton’s set because they were the most straightforward. Now they are in the process of being reviewed weekly for hairline edits and tweaks, like slow-cooked meat being turned over low heat on a grill.

Now I see the wisdom in completing one set of essays before you move on to other schools. Not only are my Wharton essays leaps and bounds better than the crap that I started off with, but my other essays are getting to that point in less and less revisions. Let’s hope they do the trick.

Wharton Essay Status: – 3/3

I also complained about MIT’s essays being a bit more convoluted than I expected. In all actuality, I quite enjoyed writing my MIT essays and found more than enough room to express what I needed to.

MIT Essay Status: – 2/3

What I like about Stanford’s essay set is that you really get a sense that they want to KNOW you. What a great feeling against the backdrop of such a cold, lonely and stressful process.

Though I had originally planned at least my Stanford “What Matters Most” essay for last (after I crashed and burned miserably on my first attempt), a new idea for it ended up hitting me like a bullet in the head during a conversation with a family member I had last weekend.

Ultimately, it came together faster and with better clarity and fewer revisions than all of my other essays to date–largely due to the aggressive revision feedback that I got from LA, AP and SB plus the pain and suffering I went through to get my Wharton essays on the right track. It also made me feel good when a friend from my undergrad who graduated from Stanford absolutely loved it and offered no critiques (and she ALWAYS offers critiques).

Stanford Essay Status:  – 2/3

Earlier, I stated that my goal was to have working drafts for all 4 of these schools by August. I think i’ll be 75% there, as there are 4 days left and the remaining essay for both MIT and Stanford are essentially the same. Though I will be writing original essays for each, the basic elements will be the same; thus, my time frames will be compressed.

When it comes to Harvard, I haven’t even touched those yet–mostly because they are 100% unique unto themselves and will take a new brain storm whereas I was able to use previous brain storms for many of my other essays. There are only so many ways you can talk about your goals unless you have multiple personality syndrome.

I will shift much of my energy to HBS over the next 2 weeks because they have the closest deadline and, therefore, the least amount of time for me to iterate and get them right. And with that nasty 800 word limit, I already know I’ll need more revisions than normal to get those tight and right.

Harvard Essay Status: – 0/2

When it comes to applications, I’ve completed about 90-95% of both the Stanford and HBS apps. They took about a day each (to do right). I’ll complete my Consortium, MIT and Wharton apps during August when they open up.

Letters of Recommendation

Most of my schools only require two rec’s. I plan for all those to come from A) my boss and B) a coworker who has volunteered some pretty high praise of the impact I’ve made on my department. Only HBS and Stanford require 3, and I plan to use a different person for each of those, and only that one.

I went after the coworker first. He was glad to oblige and will be starting with Stanford and HBS (the only open apps at this point). Next week, I plan to have THE conversation with my boss. I don’t have any concrete reason to be worried, however, it’s never easy to have an “exit” conversation with your boss, even if said exit is a year away.

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

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