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Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

November 09, 2009

Are good MBA application essays like maple syrup?

One of my clients dared me to write this. Since it is 1:49am right now and I am bit tired from doing a significant amount of interview prep with a number of clients today, I thought it might be nice to write this. Warning: There is a high likelihood that what follows will not help you gain admission to the MBA program of your choice.

Are good MBA application essays like maple syrup?

It depends on what you think about about maple syrup.

For those of us raised on artificially flavored quasi-maple pancake syrup, the real stuff can seem, well, not that sweet.  Even, and this makes me sad to admit, somewhat bland.  Good essays should certainly not be bland.  They need to standout and have impact. If your reader can't easily distinguish between the subtle, but authentic taste of something really good, you clearly have no room for being overly subtle.  In this sense, good  MBA application essays are not like good maple syrup.  Instead, a better comparison would be a great bottle of wine.  Good essays are certainly like that.  A truly great of wine will be memorable.  The odor and taste will leave you wanting more.  This is an ideal image for what one wants from great MBA essays because they leave the reader wanting more so that the reader is left with only one choice, interviewing the applicant.

However, maple syrup is authentic and authenticity is something that the best MBA application essays must have.  Those who really know the real stuff become unable to enjoy the fake stuff. Put simply, real maple syrup lacks that extreme sweetness of the artificial buttery sweet pancake syrup. Consider that essays that are sickeningly sweet have a high likelihood of leaving the reader with a bad taste in his or her mouth.    Real maple's subtle taste is what makes it such an expensive sweetener.  Good MBA essays certainly have a taste of their own.  The applicant's ability to communicate their own story as effectively as possible and in a manner that convinces the reader is quite similar to the impact that maple syrup can have on those who appreciate it.

It is times like these when I wish that I had some pancakes.  Instead, I will simply end this post now.


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