Friday, October 3, 2008

All Modesty Aside – The Application Essay

I have been in the Admissions field for almost 10 years now, so it is safe to say that I have read my fair share of application essays. I have read countless essays that, by design, are all answering the same question. Thus, my apologies to the author of the tenth set of essays on any given day, because my focus may have withered some at that point. Alas, I am only human. I am not asking to be entertained, but real, authentic essays do the trick.

That said it does not take heroic effort or hours of coaching to produce that authentic piece that will grab your reader’s attention. Here are a few hints…

  1. Allot appropriate time to completing your essays. You are making an investment in your education and that investment begins in the application process. Invest enough time to have your essays read and re-read by yourself and perhaps someone who will give you an honest assessment.
  2. Answer the question. Ah yes, seems so obvious that it need not be mentioned, but I can tell you the numerous times that I have read an essay and thought “huh?” Again, as an admissions officer, I have become accustomed to coming to the conclusion that perhaps an essay submitted to my office, may have been previously submitted to University X’s office, and as a result, may answer X’s questions perfectly but leaves me asking, “huh?”. If you have made the decision to apply to a few schools, give each application the time it warrants, and I assure you, your application will be given the time it warrants from the reader as well.
  3. Be authentic. This is your essay about you. At the Simmons School of Management, having a “voice” is essential. The classroom is dynamic and interactive; students need to be willing and able to use that “voice” to ask questions, share experiences and ideas. The essays are a tool to determine how impactful that applicant’s voice can be. It allows for further details and narratives that cannot be gleaned from a resume or transcript. Do not trust that your recommenders are going to create a Technicolor picture of how great you are, (we hope they will but…) do that for yourself. Now is not the time to be modest, you know how great you are and can be, tell us.

The application essays are an essential piece of your application story. As an admission officer, I do not want to “reduce” an applicant to the numbers, GMAT, GPA, years of work experience… the essays give the applicant a “voice” in the process. Good luck!


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