So is it just me or does it feel like the calendar moves a little faster after your target schools’ essays begin to drop? Suddenly September doesn’t seem so far away…
So far from my target school list that I revealed earlier, only HBS and Keenan-Flagler have released their essay topics (or in one case, topic).
Keenan-Flagler has opted to go with 3 required essays and 2 optional essays. Essay one is your standard current/future strengths essay, while essay two gives you 500 words with which to outline your short and long term goals. Essay three is a little more flexible, and deals with your life experiences and how they’ve prepared you for business school. The first optional essay gives you an opportunity to speak on low standardized test scores or coming from a non-traditional business background (Hello, that’s me). Essay five, also optional, is left open ended for you to speak on anything that you feel you haven’t been able to discuss in your application.
I’m excited. The prospect of writing 4 (for sure) essays for one school may be a bit daunting, but this is the part of the process that I’ve always been most excited about. A chance to put some polish on the ideas that I’ve been kicking around for the past year. Keenan-Flagler has posted a R1 application deadline of October 18th.
HBS, on the other hand, made some waves in the MBA community with their decision to go down to just one essay. It’s prompt is simple: You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? (No word limit)
Wow. What an incredible opportunity to differentiate yourself in a way that’s not as formulaic as other prescribed essay topics tend to be. For those of us that can keep a steady ship while doing so, you have an opportunity in this essay to tie many different application threads around and present a holistic picture of yourself to an adcom. For me, I see this as a chance to have the admissions office point to this essay as the central theme to my application. The other pieces provide the instruments, and the essay will show what I can do with them as a conductor. I’m pretty excited about it, as you can tell.
That’s the sunny image of this essay topic. I can just as easily see an otherwise strong application come up lacking here, due to a lack of cohesion. I’ll have to be very careful not to get too wordy, to keep things precise and compact while still keeping a button undone to let some personality show through. This essay topic definitely favors a strong writer who can hit non-prescribed topics while keeping a clear direction in mind.
Of course there are so many more variables than just the essay. It takes a special candidate to gain admission into HBS, and that goes for all of the schools that I’m considering.
HBS has posted a R1 deadline of September 16th.
The early-bird phase is most definitely over. Hopefully all of the prep-work that I’ve done will come in handy during application season.