This is part 3 of a series featuring b-school advice gleaned from one of Manhattan GMAT’s own. Until recently, Patty managed marketing and student services for our sister company,Manhattan LSAT. But she chose to return to business school and started at Wharton last fall. She has agreed to share her application experiences with us in a series called, “Patty’s Path to Wharton.”
Read Part 2 here.
Once Patty had finished the GMAT, it was on to the essays!
Her first move was to formulate her working process. She spoke to friends who’d attended business school and collected their essays. Then, she printed out various essay questions on heavy cardstock and began carrying them around so she could jot down ideas on the go.
She explains her decision:
People always say you can recycle, but you really can’t. Even if the theme is the same, there’s not a lot of overlap. They ask things in different ways, and it’s very obvious if you are writing about something different. Career vision, goals, etc.—they all ask it in slightly different ways and break it apart in different ways. So I broke everything out into notecards jotted things down.
She grouped the essays into two types: thematic or conceptual and anecdote-based. While she could just launch into writing the latter, the former required nailing down the concept first. While Patty tried to recycle themes wherever possible, her actual words differed every time. She estimates she wrote 15-20 full essays during the application process. “Kudos if you can use just one, but it wasn’t working for me,” she concludes.
She also approached others for perspective on her strengths.
I also talked to close friends to see what they admired about me. I wanted to know what my coworkers thought about me, what my core strengths were, and also my weaknesses. It’s through that process that you realize, “What do people admire that I’ve done?” It also helped jog some memories.
Two final thoughts:
First, don’t have too many readers. “Beware of too many cooks in the kitchen—if there are too many voices, yours becomes lost in reflection of too many people telling you what they think you should focus on,” she says.
And second, back up your drafts constantly.
Next: Read Patty’s advice on Short-Answer Questions here.