Thursday, October 26, 2006

Terrible guide on writing a great essay

The first advice which famous writers give to youths dreaming about Pulitzer prize is simple – read. But beware. Reading is the only activity on which one can spend a lot of time and produce nothing (we are not considering computer games, are we?). So read actively. Keep an eye on things that will look good on your application.
I read lots of students’ blogs, professors’ diaries, articles, guides, and books. And write down excerpts and thoughts they evoke in a little green notebook. Many pages are already filled. The book is there every time I’m stuck with my essays.
Funny that it always opens on a certain page with just one word: PASSION!
The word tells me: don’t write what they will like, write what you like. You need to make a strong impression - that’s the only way.
Will you read the book if you don’t like it? Hmm, maybe. If it is classic. And this means you have to. And you can proudly say ‘I did it!’ afterwards. But in any other case you won’t.
They say, anyone can write at least one book. Memoirs. That’s it. And you have two thousand words or so to describe your whole life.
So you’re there with bright thoughts and passion, eager to nail it down and they ask you: “OK, what is most people do not know about you?”. Well… that’s a difficult question for one who lives with a heart upon one’s sleeve. It is even a harder one for those who do not open much. If nearly no one knows what I did last summer, do you really think I will tell you? Another good one is “what role do you think you will play in your study group?”. Of course, I want to be a fairy. No, thank you, I don’t want to play lobster. What? Um, sorry… what roles can I choose from in the first place?
But if you struggle and struggle with words and stories and don’t like what you produce in the end, maybe it is a point to think twice. They ask for a thriller, but you can only write a romance.
--- anecdote ---
Soviet times. Deficit. A wife is going to have a baby and convinces her husband who works at a plant that produces baby carriages to steal some parts and make a carriage for their kid. Husband finally gives up. He tries to make a carriage, but regardless of all his effort, the only thing he can assemble from the stolen parts is a machine-gun.
--- smile here ---

And if they still want a baby carriage, I mean, “what you thought, felt and did”, then, perhaps, this is that notorious “fit”. Or rather “not fit”.
Or maybe they will like your romance anyway and take you for you diversity. And 800+ GMAT. And don’t forget to mention how you saved the world. Twice.
The secret is simple: you need a hook. Make you essays promising. An introduction, like your CV. You won’t wait long for an interview.

A couple of links that would be useful:
Better beginning (short)
Tighten the language (short)
Writing style guide
Crash course on essays

Thursday, October 19, 2006

LBS application submitted!

I am done with application and essays for London Business School. Feeling I have written much stronger application this year:
  • Recommenders are the most V.I.P. guys from those who know me – check.
  • Essays have just the right proportion of everything – check.
  • Definitely much more commitment – check :)
  • I even included a couple of jokes!
If I myself were on admission’s committee this year I would consider me worth a try.
Thank you everyone, whom I have talked to and whose blogs influenced my writing. Special thanks to Angie and Divine Miss N!

No other Round One schools for me. What a relief! I will have a decent weekend! How I love this application process for the overwhelming joy of life after “submit”!
I have missed lots of b-school events because of writing during the last two weeks. And though they are gone and I cannot have World MBA tour or Chicago Women Meeting back… I won’t regret. Next week is all planned for going out with friends!

The interview decision (or ding) will be available on the 17th of November.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

American schools postponed till R2

I have decided not to rush with my Harvard application after my recommender looked through my essays (you know, the ones with "leadership, leadership, leadership, leadership" all over the place) and said:
- Hmmm, it seems to me, you've missed leadership here.
- Where? Where?
- Between leadership and leadership, I suppose.
- Arghhh....
So I focused on writing Chevening scholarship essays instead (who knows, maybe this year I will be more lucky?) and submitted them yesterday.
And now I have just the LBS application left. Still significant amount of work, because even harmless question "With whom have you discussed your plans to undertake MBA studies and what were their responses?" in the application took me 40 minutes to answer. I reprobate myself for not saving last year application (I have only essays left). If you're applying, be clever than me and save it :) It is saved easily unlike the Harvard one...
A piece of good news is that LBS accepts e-mail recommendations this year.