Harvard | Mr. Overrepresented MBB Consultant (2+2)
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Wharton | Mr. Big Four To IB
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Guy
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Rice Jones | Mr. Tech Firm Product Manager
GRE 320, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. Billion Dollar Startup
GRE 309, GPA 6.75/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. Mexican Central Banker
GMAT 730, GPA 95.8/100 (1st in class)
Harvard | Mr. Comeback Kid
GMAT 770, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Tech Risk
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Wharton | Ms. Strategy & Marketing Roles
GMAT 750, GPA 9.66/10
Harvard | Mr. Bomb Squad To Business
GMAT 740, GPA 3.36
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 To Healthcare Reformer
GRE 338, GPA 4.0 (1st Class Honours - UK - Deans List)
Foster School of Business | Mr. Corporate Strategy In Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.32
IU Kelley | Mr. Advertising Guy
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. IB Back Office To Front Office/Consulting
GMAT 640, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Lawyer Turned Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Whitecoat Businessman
GMAT 740, GPA Equivalent to 3(Wes) and 3.4(scholaro)
MIT Sloan | Ms. Digital Manufacturing To Tech Innovator
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Healthcare Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Developing Social Enterprises
GMAT 750, GPA 3.75
Yale | Mr. Education Management
GMAT 730, GPA 7.797/10
Columbia | Mr. Neptune
GMAT 750, GPA 3.65
Darden | Ms. Education Management
GRE 331, GPA 9.284/10
Columbia | Mr. Confused Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. 2+2 Trader
GMAT 770, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr Big 4 To IB
GRE 317, GPA 4.04/5.00

Sandy’s Take On The New Harvard Business School Essay Book

essay-writing-2
ESSAY 1. The Lifesaver

The story: A doctor with experience in medical data and “broad experience in health reform,” including designing sytems at some unnamed company, wants to get an MBA to become  a “global leader in health reform and innovation.” 

Sandy Says: Serviceable essay which is all this guy needed. Some blah, blah about how bad the current health care system is, some anecdotes about his own practice, which incentivized procedures rather than curing things in the bud, some final paragraph about Why HBS with the expected points (general management, health care courses like x and y, not a very clear idea of what he will be doing after MBA, but who cares. we got the picture. He’s a doc, he wants to cure the big, bad health care system, HBS can help. 

Typical seven paragraph once-over lightly. Para 1: An amazingly banal indictment of global health care that I would not have allowed in Fresh Comp course. Para 2: Personal story of why he became a doctor, also OK but slipshod.  Para 3:  Effective story about a guy he treated for pancreatitus who was underneath all the treatment, an alcoholic, a metaphor for how bad U.S. health care is.  Para. 4 + 5: A rap about how more wired patient care could identify disease earlier using big data, networking, mobile media, etc. to stress prevention and early intervention. Para 6: Claim he has some experience in doing this already, although examples are sketchy. Para 7: Why HBS.

This essay could have been three times more polished, factual, and personalized. It could have created a real road map of what he wanted to do. Who cares? He’s a doc with a shtick about reforming health care, some sketchy examples, and nothing odd or embarrassing.  That, and admission to a top medical school, selective residency [none of that info is provided in essay] will get you in, and making the essay better was not going to make a difference. It was the bare minimum to convince us he knew what he was talking about. 


ESSAY 2. The People Developer

The Story:  The candidate had to figure out actually that he was a people developer, but this essay is often incoherent. The writer grew up in a low-income family outside the U.S. His mother made him study and work hard. The family moved to another country (not sure which) when he was 12, where the writer claims he “took charge” of his development, first in a wealthy state school, and then unaccountably, after two years, in a poor school. At the poor school, he took the initiative to transfer to gifted-and-talented classes, thus developing a habit of seeking “experiences outside of my comfort zone.” He really says that. 

In high school and college, he excels through hard work, being the spark-plug of the crew team (all amazingly banal recitation of this), with a payoff lesson that “I realized that relating to those around us can provide powerful inspiration to excel from good to great.” No shout out to Jim Collins. Since college he has been a volunteer apprentice lifestyle coach, “to help build confidence and improve social skills.” One anecdote (not very impressive IMHO) to prove this and then another story where as volunteer to an organization that does “pro-bono strategy consulting to non-profits” he helped shake up a board by asking board members to find out why donors gave donations in the first place. That resulted in the board having deeper understanding of motives and the diversification of the organization’s donor base.

Based on all this, his goal is to “dedicate my career to helping future leaders develop in ways I was not afforded.”  He wants to teach others and students, “body language, interviewing, group dynamics, emotional intelligence, negotiation, etc.” There are no reality touch points to this vision, e.g. in what setting, how is that a career, why you need an MBA to do it. At HBS he plans to “empower fellow students to challenge themselves and experience the world in new ways.” 

Sandy Says:  Huh?  This dude may be great, but based soley on his essay, I do not understand what he wants to do (this might have been more clear in other parts of application) or why he needs an MBA. Essay execution ranged from the banal to the serviceable. On the plus side, it kept to a theme of self-improvement and life coaching and did not go off the tracks in terms of rants, annoying digressions, or anti-PC taboo breaking. On the contrary, the entire essay was touchy-feely in some barely developed way.  Not sure what else this guy had to get admitted, sounds like possible URM (if he gained U.S. citizenship) or mystery meat (offspring of faculty member, friend of Someone). My guess is, this guy had whatever magic he needed before he sat down to write the essay and then the essay DID NO HARM.

Well, to the adcom: Based soley on this essay, I would have dinged this guy for certain. Essay is, at bottom, some sketchy account of his growing-up and then a heavy mortar round of self-help cliches that even the Ed School may have balked at. 

Something going on here, but we don’t know what.  The actual outstanding question of what this guy plans to do and how HBS fits in the picture is left blank, which is sometimes OK if you are a VC writing about your stamp collection and how that has helped you develop. But here, this guy is actually talking about what he wants to do, and WE NEVER FIND OUT IN ANY USABLE WAY. 

ESSAY 3.  The Community Organizer

The Story: A woman from what appears to be a developing country follows two tracks of her life: the first is a mostly coherent and sincere account of her success in performing at Model UN competitions and then using that success as a basis for creating an entire infrastructure of Model UN competitions and teams in her country. That part is detailed, sincere and impressive.

The second part outlines her professional career since 2010 as an analyst for a credit card lending business, through a series of promotions (told quickly), ending up as product manager for a small and medium enterprises lending business (don’t ask me but it was probably explained in other parts of the app.) “Teaching startup entrepreneurs how to work their finance (sic) and providing them with loans adequate to their needs is a powerful incentive towards formality (sic) and economic growth.”  Based on those experiences, she wants to be an impactful leader in her country’s growth and development. Four long and personal paragraphs, well stocked with relevant HBS tidbits, about Why HBS in a long (11 paragraph) essay.

Sandy Says:  Bingo. This is no great piece of prose but the writing is serviceable and detailed and organized (loosey but OK) and sincere. This essay is also a good model, of sorts, of the type of essay most people write for HBS (the selections in the book are skewed somewhat towards the unusual and less ordinary.  So if you are looking for a model as to the outline, this is a good one to read, although yours could be shorter. 

She wants to be an influence in her home country and retells a set of stories, one extra-curricular, one professional, which point to that. This is an essay which may have actually added value to her app.  We get a feeling for her passion, her intelligence, and her ability to tell a coherent story. The content of what she does and says is impressive.