Q&A: What was the hardest part of writing your application essay?

Posted by TheMBATour on 21 March 2012 / 1 Comment

We recently chatted with the founders of UberEssays.com about the ever-formidable application essay. Here's what the two talented MBA candidates had to say:

Harvey Duan: The most difficult part about writing your essay is trying to differentiate yourself from other applicants. The admissions committee goes through thousands of applications and you want to stand out somehow. You want to be authentic and original. You have to remember to be engaging; otherwise, your essay loses its purpose. When trying to articulate your own thoughts, it’s easy to understand because you’re the one writing it. However, you have to remember that your reader may not have the knowledge of what you are talking about. You have to balance sophistication and simplicity so anyone can understand your writing.

Pawan Nrisimha: The hardest part of writing essays for me was to decide where to start and what content to share within the limited space. I reminisced through my entire life and documented the various events that seemed unique and reflect who I am today. This helped me identify and fit all aspects into the different essays and create a holistic view for my application.

What is the hardest part of review/critiquing your application essays?

Harvey: The hard part of reviewing your own essays is that you may not be able to catch the mistakes that are obvious to other readers. What may make sense to me may not necessarily make sense for someone else. Also, since I have the tendency to revise my writing several times, I may think a section is perfect when in actuality it does not flow with the rest of the essay.

When I am reviewing someone else’s essays, the most difficult part of reviewing essays is the ethical responsibility. I have been entrusted to do something very important and my feedback can have a big impact on the future of this person’s career. It’s a very big responsibility and I want to make sure I get it right. Some people may think it’s just an essay, however, this is the only way for the admissions committee to get to know you other than looking at your test scores and work experience.

Pawan: There are several aspects to consider while reviewing your essay. The seemingly simple but a very hard one is to answer the question accurately. For essays that specifically ask about your personal life, I’ve seen applicants respond only about their professional life. This can act negatively on your application, especially if ADCOMM gets the sense that you have a problem understanding a question. So, irrespective of your glorious examples, do not try to fit them in if it doesn’t relate to the question in any way.

How did you choose a reviewer for your application essays?

Harvey: When I was applying, I didn’t have the best resources to review my essays. I also couldn’t afford the expensive admissions consultants. The main resources I had were family and friends; however, none of them went to business school. They were able to help with small things such as spelling and grammar, but they couldn’t provide me with the level of insight from current students.

Pawan: It is important to talk to a family member or a close friend in the essay writing process. Apart from you, they are the ones who know best about you. This is the only way you can get a comprehensive view of your life events and out them in the right light. However, you also need a reviewer (student or alum) from the school you’re applying to. It is tough to know someone from your target school willing to do a detailed review for you. For my essays, I had my wife and friends (MBA students and alums) review my essays. However, I understand that not everyone has contacts with current students at target schools in which case you can use the services of www.uberessays.com

About the Authors:

Harvey Duan Co-founder Uberessays.com / MBA Candidate, Berkeley Haas

For the last five years, Harvey has been busy with his event ticket company www.slickseats.com. When he is not working on school projects, running his company and spending time with his wife and dog, you can find him working on the next big thing. He holds a BA in Rhetoric from Cal Berkeley.

Pawan Nrisimha Co-founder Uberessays.com / MBA Candidate, Berkeley Haas

For the last 9+ years, Pawan has been working in the semiconductor industry developing chips for low-power devices such as smart phones and storage products. An entrepreneur at heart, Pawan co-founded SmartPark, a company that designed low-cost vehicle sensors for intelligent parking applications. He holds an MSEE from University of Illinois and a BSEE from BITS, Pilani.

About Uberessays.com:

UberEssays.com is a social platform that connects users with similar backgrounds to help candidates perfect their admissions essays.

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