MBA Chat — October 11, 1999

MBA Chat — October 11, 1999

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Chat Transcript:
How to Write an Outstanding Application Essay

On October 11, Linda Abraham, president and founder of, presented "How to Write an Outstanding Application Essay." Following her informative step-by-step presentation, chat participants posed questions to Linda and other editors. Read the transcript to find out how to structure your essays and distinguish yourself from your competition!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:06:02 PM)
Welcome to's chat, "How to Write an Outstanding Application Essay." I would like to introduce Cindy Tokumitsu and Paul Bodine, who will assist me this evening. Tonight we will focus on writing bold and brilliant essays for b-school.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:06:15 PM)
Again, I would like to suggest that before we start you click on

   /mba/essays/essay02.htm, and

and print out these essays because I will be referring to them
throughout the chat.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:06:27 PM)
I encourage dialogue and discussion, but I would like to suggest a structure to make it easier to follow the threads of conversation. So here is the protocol:

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:06:35 PM)
I will post material to the chat. If you have a question on that material, please type a '?' and I and/or other participants will reply. If one of you wants to comment on the current topic, please jump right in. If you want to ask a question on a different topic, please wait for the second part of the chat.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:06:47 PM)
I will open the second part of the chat to questions. Please ask any questions that you have pertaining to writing for business school admission - essays or letters of recommendation. Again if you want to ask a question or raise a new subject, please type '?'; if you want to comment on a topic currently being discussed, type away!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:06:56 PM)
First I would like to start with a word about approaching the MBA application as a whole. As Maxx Duffy discussed at our last chat, Strategies for Success, and the page, "Putting the Puzzle Together", points out, you need to look at each essay as a part of a whole package.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:07:17 PM)
So before you write a word, you need to

1) Review the questions and analyze which experiences and anecdotes best answer the questions.
2) Determine which combination of experiences as a whole presents the most complete and impressive picture of you.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:07:32 PM)
Since the Strategies for Success transcript and the page referenced above discuss strategy in depth, tonight we will focus on techniques for writing individual essays.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:07:55 PM)
I said that I want to encourage discussion, so I am going to start with a question: What makes an outstanding application essay?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:08:04 PM)
Here are a few attributes of strong application essays: 

cjazz (11-Oct-99 9:08:09 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:08:22 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:08:29 PM)
Anyone else?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:08:53 PM)
Here are a few that I thought of:

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:09:04 PM)
1) Answer the question

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:09:14 PM)
2) Provide a window into the real you.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:09:22 PM)
3) Demonstrate your critical thinking and communications skills.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:09:31 PM)
These descriptions definitely reveal important aspects of the application essay, but they don't go far enough for two reasons:

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:09:39 PM)
1) You have been trained to write impersonal, objective academic papers or equally dull business memos. That is being polite. You are trained to write papers that are BORING.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:09:48 PM)
2) They are very different from the engaging, stimulating, revealing pieces admissions staff members would enjoy reading.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:09:55 PM)
Like the authors of journal or business articles that so frequently put you to sleep, you have been trained merely to convey information clinically and analytically, not to capture attention or engage.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:10:04 PM)
I prefer to define an application essay as a human-interest story about you. You are quite familiar with the genre. Our newspapers and magazines are filled with them because they grab your attention, hold your interest, and attempt to convince you of the article's message.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:10:11 PM)
Similarly your essay must grab and hold the adcom's attention - and convince the reader to accept YOU!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:10:23 PM)
The admissions staff is made up of human beings plodding through boring, monotonous, frequently trite essays. They are desperate to read something engaging, exciting, and persuasive. When they do, it goes in the admit pile (provided the numbers are there, too.)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:10:29 PM)
Now that we have clarified what the application essay is, let's discuss how to produce one. Any questions?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:10:56 PM)
OK I'll continue

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:10:58 PM)
Step 1 - General Preparation

CindyT (11-Oct-99 9:11:21 PM)
What advice do you have about that everything-in-one essay--goals, career progression, why the school, etc.?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:11:48 PM)
Cindy, can you hold that until the Q&A?

CindyT (11-Oct-99 9:12:02 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:12:02 PM)
First let's discuss the structure of our model, the human-interest story. It has four parts: lead, theme, body, conclusion.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:12:12 PM)
1. Lead or hook-captures the reader's attention and makes him or her want to read more. Typically the lead is an anecdote, question, gripping description of a scene, a startling statement or statistic, or a quote.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:12:22 PM)
2. Thesis statement

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:12:28 PM)
3. Body-material to support the thesis and anticipate possible counter-arguments or objections

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:12:35 PM)
4. Conclusion-wrap up the article

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:12:47 PM)
Any questions on the general structure?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:12:57 PM)
Step 2 - Pick a topic and develop your thesis

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:13:09 PM)
"I don't know how to start!" is one of the more common comments we hear. Well to start you need a topic and a thesis, the point you are trying to make.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:13:23 PM)
The topic(s) of your essays should reveal what is most important to you and distinctive about you. Read that again. You need to write about what is most important to you and distinctive about you. That is a crucial point. When you do choose a topic about which you are passionate, that passion will show through in your writing. And it is obvious why you want to distinguish yourself from your thousands of competitors.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:13:33 PM)
Furthermore, you need to choose carefully because admissions people don't have time or patience for the unimportant, and some schools, like HBS, give very tight word limits. Since the typical paragraph is approximately 100 - 150 words, a 300-word essay consists of three short paragraphs. That doesn't give you much space for expansiveness. Do not write a laundry lists of your life or a resume in prose. Carefully select what you will include.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:13:42 PM)
And once you have selected the topics for the different essay, make sure you are answering the question and making a point. The essays must contain a duality of description and analysis - What is important and why. If you only describe and fail to analyze, you will end up with the resume-like list or an anecdote with no purpose. If you only provide the analysis, for example an expansive theoretical analysis of your views on good leadership or achievement, your essay will probably be a self-absorbed, pompous collection of platitudes. Maintain that duality of description and analysis.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:13:55 PM)
Analysis means that you are making a point. That point is your thesis and usually the distilled answer to the application question.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:14:04 PM)
Your thesis doesn't have to appear verbatim in your essay, though it can guide the reader if stated towards the end of the lead or the beginning of the body. Its primary purpose is to guide you in writing. A good thesis provides the backbone of a good essay. It helps to direct you; anything that doesn't support the thesis should be thrown out.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:14:15 PM)
Let's take a look at our sample essays. Can you look at the goals essay and boil it down to a one-sentence thesis?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:14:46 PM)
Anyone want to try?

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:15:15 PM)
She wants to be a CFO?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:15:24 PM)
That's a start.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:15:40 PM)
But it is much more specific than that and gives more guidance.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:15:50 PM)
Here's my version of the theme:

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:15:54 PM)
"I seek an MBA to improve my knowledge of international finance and management and thus prepare myself for a career as a portfolio manager of Asian Pacific equities"

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:16:12 PM)
How about "The Guitarist," where I found the theme is tougher to discern.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:16:42 PM)
Anyone want to take a crack?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:17:08 PM)
"By learning bass guitar and playing in Hipbone, I developed discipline, a willingness to work hard, and a commitment to balance along with accomplishment. "

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:17:16 PM)
change of career, wants to enter the marketing, consulting and entrepreneur field - does not have very specific goals yet

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:17:37 PM)
You're right. This was more of a background or challenge essay. It wasn't a goals essay.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:18:06 PM)
I really think the main point, though, was his personal growth and capacity for hard work.

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:18:25 PM)
(This user has left DigiChat)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:18:33 PM)
With a defined topic and thesis you should have the direction and focus needed to move on. Any questions?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:18:41 PM)
Step 3 - Outline your essay.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:18:52 PM)
Take a few moments to structure and order your essay. Ask yourself "What are the sub-points I want to make in my essay?" What anecdotes and specifics can I use to support those sub-points and my thesis?" Remember to draw on different areas of your life and experiences.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:19:02 PM)
Order them logically and effectively. Again throw out anything extraneous.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:19:11 PM)
Step 4 - Write the body

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:19:20 PM)
We are discussing writing the body before the lead because some are more comfortable working in this order, but if you are more comfortable writing the lead first, go ahead and write it that way.

James (11-Oct-99 9:19:23 PM)
(This user has entered How to Write an Outstanding Essay)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:19:26 PM)
I mentioned earlier that writers can state their theme towards the end of their lead or the beginning of the body. If you are writing a "story essay," an essay telling a story about one event, you may find it more effective to let the theme become clear as the story unfolds, as the Guitarist did.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:19:30 PM)
On the other hand, if you are writing a "tapestry essay," an essay in which you weave together disparate threads from your life's experiences to create a clear picture, you will probably need to include the thesis earlier in your essay. Generally, the reader needs to know the common thread in a tapestry essay in order to see the whole picture.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:19:43 PM)
Where is the theme in the goals essay? Do you see how it provides a roadmap to the reader?

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:19:47 PM)
(This user has entered How to Write an Outstanding Essay)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:20:09 PM)
Hint: It's in the first paragraph.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:21:00 PM)
top school will help build on her CPA training - then she describes her CPA experiences

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:21:20 PM)
That's right.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:21:28 PM)
It's the roadmap.

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:21:49 PM)
(This user has entered How to Write an Outstanding Essay)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:21:54 PM)
It could provide guidance for the writer and definitely provides guidance to the reader.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:22:09 PM)
Before we proceed further, I would like to have a little focus group. Please respond Yes or No to the following questions:

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:22:20 PM)
1) Do you have community service?

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:22:26 PM)

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:22:27 PM)

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:22:30 PM)

raul (11-Oct-99 9:22:31 PM)

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:22:33 PM)

James (11-Oct-99 9:22:33 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:22:40 PM)
2) Are you a software engineer, consultant, banker, accountant, or entrepreneur?

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:22:44 PM)

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:22:45 PM)

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:22:46 PM)

James (11-Oct-99 9:22:46 PM)

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:22:52 PM)

raul (11-Oct-99 9:22:55 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:22:59 PM)
3) Do you feel you are technically or academically (in terms of prior course work) prepared for b-school? (If not, what are you doing here?)

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:23:05 PM)

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:23:05 PM)

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:23:07 PM)

James (11-Oct-99 9:23:07 PM)

raul (11-Oct-99 9:23:08 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:23:13 PM)
4) Did you or will you prepare for the GMAT?

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:23:14 PM)

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:23:16 PM)

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:23:17 PM)

James (11-Oct-99 9:23:18 PM)

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:23:19 PM)

raul (11-Oct-99 9:23:19 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:23:25 PM)
Now I am going to ask a different series of questions:

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:23:33 PM)
1) How many of you have built homes for Habitat for Humanity or volunteered in a home where children and the spouses of individuals with cancer can obtain counseling and emotional support?

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:23:40 PM)
I have

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:23:46 PM)
Any others?

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:23:47 PM)
I have not

raul (11-Oct-99 9:23:52 PM)
i have

James (11-Oct-99 9:23:53 PM)

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:23:58 PM)
I don't even know where this question is coming from...

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:24:03 PM)
2) How many of you have developed a credit card processing program that serves VISA throughout Asia?

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:24:03 PM)
I have but in a different situation

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:24:12 PM)
not me

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:24:16 PM)

raul (11-Oct-99 9:24:16 PM)

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:24:17 PM)
Not me

James (11-Oct-99 9:24:18 PM)
Not here

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:24:25 PM)
3) How many of you have developed successful fund raising programs for a leading performing arts school?

raul (11-Oct-99 9:24:33 PM)

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:24:34 PM)

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:24:35 PM)

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:24:36 PM)

James (11-Oct-99 9:24:40 PM)

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:24:41 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:24:41 PM)
4) How many of you have negotiated the purchase of showcase real property worth $200 million?

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:24:47 PM)

raul (11-Oct-99 9:24:51 PM)

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:24:52 PM)
a little less

James (11-Oct-99 9:24:54 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:24:59 PM)
What is the difference between the two sets of questions?

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:25:00 PM)
not in the last week

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:25:05 PM)
No one has to apologize.

James (11-Oct-99 9:25:08 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:25:12 PM)
You got it.

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:25:15 PM)

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:25:15 PM)

raul (11-Oct-99 9:25:18 PM)
second set more specific

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:25:27 PM)
If you talk in generalities you are very similar to your competition. Only by citing specific examples and using detail judiciously can you individualize your essays and distinguish yourself.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:25:36 PM)
Furthermore, would your rather read an entirely theoretical book, or a book that mixes theory and example? Don't anecdotes and illustrations bring to life the theory? Don't they make the book (or lecture) more interesting?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:25:48 PM)
Specifics, anecdotes and examples will make your essay distinctive and engaging. You can't just tell the reader you want to go to business school or maybe even your reasons for pursuing an MBA; you have to demonstrate that interest or whatever points you are trying to make.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:25:58 PM)
So how do you include details? Write in specifics. Don't write about "my volunteer work"; write about "meeting Joe, the homeless Viet vet missing his two front teeth."

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:26:06 PM)
Don't write about consulting; write about a specific project - a marketing program for a large HMO - where you took the lead and shined.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:26:16 PM)
Focus, focus, focus.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:26:22 PM)
Let's compare the goals essay and the "Don't Write Like This" essay.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:26:30 PM)
Note how the writer of the former uses detail to bring his vision to life. Did the author of the latter essay say anything concrete about his goals?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:26:58 PM)
Almost nothing.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:27:05 PM)
Obviously, the guitarist makes excellent use of detail and a few critical specifics throughout his essay. Can someone name a couple?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:27:14 PM)
Note the balance between description and analysis in both essays. Do you feel like you are meeting two distinctive individuals? Are they cookie-cutter clones?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:27:35 PM)
In writing your essay, don't be afraid to show emotion without being maudlin or melodramatic. Gentle humor is acceptable, but not required and should never be forced.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:27:47 PM)
Step 5 - The Lead

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:28:03 PM)
The lead, like the beginning of almost any written piece, is the most important part of your essay. Put your most interesting anecdote, tidbit, quote at the beginning of your essay.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:28:03 PM)
Let's review what a lead can be: an anecdote, question, gripping description of a scene, startling statement or statistic, or a quote.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:28:14 PM)
Whatever you do, please don't start your essay with "I was born in..." or "My parents came from..." Those openings are about as sleep inducing as Valium.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:28:24 PM)
Let's look at our sample essays. Please read the first paragraph in each of them.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:28:55 PM)
The guitarist used anecdote and a question to launch his essay. This lead represents an effective use of anecdote, detail, and a question. Any other comments?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:29:06 PM)
The accountant wanted to convey the concrete nature and specificity of her goal. Her clear direction sets her apart. She demonstrated her interest and conveyed her excitement through clever use of detail. Any questions?

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:29:16 PM)
I joined the chat late... where are the examples being referred to?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:29:22 PM)
Step 6 - The Conclusion

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:29:54 PM)
The Goals Essay, The Guitarist, and
Don't write like this!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:30:00 PM)
The conclusion

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:30:11 PM)
All good things must end, and so too must your essay. That's the purpose of your conclusion - to wrap up your essay.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:30:18 PM)
In the conclusion you should:

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:30:25 PM)
1) Restate or state your thesis

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:30:36 PM)
2) Remind the reader of those activities you really want them to remember.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:30:42 PM)
3) Tie up your essay by referring back to the lead.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:30:49 PM)
Let's look at our sample essays and see how they concluded.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:30:58 PM)
How did the accountant conclude?

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:31:24 PM)
highlighting the skills she would bring to the school

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:31:30 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:31:46 PM)
She also tied it back to her intro by referring to her future date with destiny.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:32:16 PM)
The ability to tie the essay up by connecting the intro and conclusion can give an essay a wonderful sense of unity.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:32:22 PM)
and cohesiveness.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:32:30 PM)
How did the guitarist conclude?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:32:42 PM)
He emphasized the significance of his bass playing, personally, professionally and academically.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:32:49 PM)
This concludes the presentation part of the chat. If you were really writing your essay you would need to go back and edit it thoroughly, perhaps show it to a few others (maybe even an editor) and finally whip it into top shape. But for us here and now, I would like to open the chat to your questions.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:33:27 PM)
? Linda how would you fit a conclusion in the HBS 300 word essays?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:33:41 PM)
Just a couple of reminders: While I am happy to discuss approaches to b-school essays and questions of content, this is not a forum for posting your essay and receiving feedback. Also, I would like to avoid the brief summary of qualifications (or even the long laundry list) followed by the question, "Can I qualify for a particular school." All I will be able to say is "You seem to have a competitive profile" or "Your chances are slim." 

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:34:03 PM)
But getting back to Jazz' question, it is difficult.

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:34:20 PM)
Jazz, with HBS you may have to settle for a one-sentence conclusion.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:34:34 PM)
300 words is at most 3 short paragraphs, and you have to keep the conclusion down to one or two sentences

CindyT (11-Oct-99 9:34:52 PM)
I have found in working with HBS applicants that often we have to blend the intro and conclusion into the "main content" more.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:35:18 PM)
Okay - so really all I could do there is answer the questions to the point and leave all the cute stuff out?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:35:29 PM)
That is certainly true. You don't have room for full paragraph intros and conclusions on 300-word essays.

CindyT (11-Oct-99 9:35:40 PM)
No--you really have to do two things at once!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:35:43 PM)
Detail and anecdote aren't necessarily cute.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:35:57 PM)
Even in longer essays, you want to provide substance.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:36:12 PM)
The trouble with the HBS essays, is that sometimes you feel that you have to cut meat along with fat.

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:36:25 PM)
Should those with less practical experience choose one essay style over another?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:36:41 PM)
I am not sure I understand what you mean.

CindyT (11-Oct-99 9:36:57 PM)
Also, organization is absolutely, absolutely key for those HBS essays--that helps avoid the "cut the meat" dilemma.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:37:15 PM)
timmy, could you clarify?

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:37:28 PM)
The goals essay emphasizes past experiences, no?

Patrick (11-Oct-99 9:37:40 PM)
(This user has entered How to Write an Outstanding Essay)

raul (11-Oct-99 9:37:51 PM)
for leadership essays - what if you don't have many examples of leadership - work related - e.g. you are a stockbroker

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:37:59 PM)
In the goals essay your goal should be to make clear that you have realistic goals grounded in experience.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:38:08 PM)
?How about the everything in one essay like Cindy mentioned - Take Wharton's Essay 1? Should I just highlight few specifics or run thru the resume?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:38:19 PM)
Depending on the specific question, it can have both past and future.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:38:32 PM)
Raul, do you have none professional examples?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:38:38 PM)
sports? Extra-curriculars?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:38:49 PM)
BTW, sales can provide examples of leadership.

raul (11-Oct-99 9:38:57 PM)

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:39:00 PM)
Leadership doesn't necessarily have to mean you have direct reports. You can lead by showing initiative.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:39:09 PM)
Good point Paul

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:39:29 PM)
Jazz, don't write a resume in prose or merely repeat what is on other parts of the application.

raul (11-Oct-99 9:39:35 PM)
Paul -can you provide an example

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:39:53 PM)
One of the powerful points Maxx made in the last chat was the importance of insight.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:40:16 PM)
One of our constant goals is to make sure that the essays are bringing out information not found elsewhere.

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:40:20 PM)
Yes, suggesting and implementing a new way of doing something even if you're the low man/woman on the totem pole -- that's initiative and leadership.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:40:28 PM)
Go for the specifics. Remember the focus group a few minutes ago.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:40:37 PM)
It was a quick and dirty example of the value of specifics.

raul (11-Oct-99 9:40:49 PM)
how do you address minority issues

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:41:17 PM)
?Linda if most of my specifics are from work is that bad? Should I balance work and personal experiences in my essays?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:41:41 PM)
You should definitely have some non-professional material in your essays.

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:41:50 PM)
Raul, that's usually done in essays about "uniqueness," "diversity," or "overcoming obstacles."

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:41:58 PM)
They are trying to get to know you as a person. They want to meet you through your essays.

raul (11-Oct-99 9:42:40 PM)
can these be included incorporated in the goals essay - eg add to diversity of class

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:42:55 PM)
That depends on the other questions.

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:43:09 PM)
Raul, yes, if the goals essay asks you anything about what you will bring to the school.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:43:27 PM)
Raul, if there is a diversity question, how you will add to the diversity of the class can go there instead.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:43:39 PM)
?to get some examples of attractive leads - say for the Wharton team dynamics essay would you describe a conflict situation that happened at your current job?

raul (11-Oct-99 9:43:46 PM)
linda - if not?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:43:51 PM)
Jazz, that's a great way to go.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:44:14 PM)
If not, then it could go in the goals essay, perhaps a personal accomplishment essay, or the optional essay.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:44:37 PM)
?Linda which ques did you just answer?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:44:41 PM)
It could also go in an essay about favorite causes or values and beliefs.

BingLin (11-Oct-99 9:44:48 PM)
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Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:44:49 PM)
Raul, sometimes the last "optional" question gives you a chance to talk about things, like minority issues, you haven't had a chance to talk about elsewhere.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:44:54 PM)
I was answering Raul's on diversity and minority issues.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:45:31 PM)
Any other questions?

TT (11-Oct-99 9:45:33 PM)
(This user has entered How to Write an Outstanding Essay)

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:45:54 PM)
I graduated with a degree in the Social Sciences, but have worked for Big 6 the past 2 years. Should I highlight my major?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:46:15 PM)
Timmy, that would distinguish you.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:46:24 PM)
?to get an idea of attractive Lead in's - say for the Wharton team dynamics essay - would you describe a crisis situation at work?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:46:27 PM)
The key would be to say how your major has added value to your candidacy.

TT (11-Oct-99 9:46:45 PM)
How to differentiate myself from other big fivers?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:47:06 PM)
Jazz, yes that would be a great opening. Then discuss how you diffused the situation and how you would use similar techniques in the Wharton Learning Team.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:47:28 PM)
TT, you can distinguish yourself in terms of your accomplishments at work and off work.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:47:41 PM)
You can distinguish yourself in terms of your personal background, community service, or hobbies.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:47:57 PM)
What makes you different from the individuals you work with?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:48:26 PM)
Also TT, use specifics to distinguish yourself from your competition.

john (11-Oct-99 9:48:31 PM)
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TT (11-Oct-99 9:48:47 PM)
How to describe a cultural shock? What is a meaningful cultural shock?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:48:49 PM)
I believe you came late, but you may want to look at the transcript, which should be posted in about one week. We discussed that very issue above.

CindyT (11-Oct-99 9:48:51 PM)
TT--also going into detail about a particular project, team, or interaction. If it is specific, it has to be unique. You could make a mini-narrative to keep it engaging.

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:49:16 PM)
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LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:49:47 PM)
A meaningful culture shock could be an occasion when in foreign country you encountered behavior that surprised you or that you misinterpreted because you didn't understand the culture.

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:49:48 PM)
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jazz (11-Oct-99 9:50:04 PM)
?A turning point in my career was the success of the business that I started while finishing my bachelors in mechanical engineering - From what you mentioned this lead in is sure to put people to sleep?

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:50:06 PM)
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LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:50:24 PM)
Not really Jazz.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:50:33 PM)
What business did you start? How did you start it?

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:50:33 PM)
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LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:50:37 PM)
What challenges did you face?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:50:54 PM)
Was it an instant success or did you struggle initially?

raul (11-Oct-99 9:50:57 PM)
some schools have a question in regards to managing - the two scenarios are 1. turning a division that is in trouble around 2. division is doing well and you just have to maintain the status quo. Do adcom's read into your choices? eg. picking the division that is doing well could lead them to believe that you like to take the easy way out.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:51:03 PM)
?Well I was going to explain that, but as a lead in would that be okay or should I start out mentioning a challenge?

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:51:11 PM)
Jazz, Was there a moment when you realized the business was going to make it, or when it almost didn't?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:51:16 PM)
Did you struggle later? Certainly there are some scenes from its birth that are memorable.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:51:20 PM)
paul - yes

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:51:39 PM)
Talk about it!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:51:44 PM)
Jazz, that moment might make a great lead.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:51:59 PM)
I see - that's true!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:52:15 PM)
Raul, I don't believe they read into the choice.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:53:01 PM)
Any other questions?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:53:38 PM)
Are you ready to write or have you started already?

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:54:00 PM)
?Linda I would like you to review my Wharton essays and based on that could you give me some idea on how much work I would need to do if I used your firm?

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 9:54:00 PM)
I feel better prepared than I was 35 minutes ago

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:54:35 PM)
Jazz, one of our editors would be happy to review your essays and give you an estimate.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:54:47 PM)
?okay - thanks.

raul (11-Oct-99 9:54:49 PM)
linda -- what is your turn around time

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:54:49 PM)
Timmy, I am glad you found the chat worthwhile.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:54:59 PM)
Raul, two-business days for each review.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:55:16 PM)
I would really appreciate feedback. Did you find the chat helpful? What topics would you like to see for future chats? How can we improve the chat or other site features? Would you come again? Please send feedback to Thank you very much for participating.

jazz (11-Oct-99 9:55:36 PM)
thanks for the great info

eddie (11-Oct-99 9:55:42 PM)
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LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:55:44 PM)
Thank you again for coming. Good luck!

raul (11-Oct-99 9:55:47 PM)
how does it work? is the first critique free.

TT (11-Oct-99 9:55:48 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:55:53 PM)

James (11-Oct-99 9:56:07 PM)
I've been trying to explain why personal circumstances and starting a business has taken me across country through five different undergrad institutions and a seven year time span. Is it possible to do this without sounding like I'm trying to make excuses?

Patrick (11-Oct-99 9:56:11 PM)
Thanks Linda. Sorry for joining late. I sent you a e-mail via the

Patrick (11-Oct-99 9:56:25 PM)
"info" address. Please respond at your convenience.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:56:32 PM)
No, we charge for our time, but if you want an estimate or if you want to know if we recommend the package or editing and review, we don't charge for that.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:56:43 PM)
Patrick, I will. Thank you.

raul (11-Oct-99 9:56:52 PM)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:56:57 PM)
You're very welcome.

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:56:59 PM)
James, not if the reasons are good or are well presented.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:57:12 PM)
Thanks also to Paul Bodine and Cindy Tokumitsu for their participation and assistance.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:57:33 PM)
James, I agree with Paul.

James (11-Oct-99 9:57:35 PM)
But there are several reasons that have to be crammed into a very small space. Can it be done without sounding whiny?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:57:50 PM)
You may not need to include every move.

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:57:57 PM)
Probably depends on the reasons, too.

TT (11-Oct-99 9:58:05 PM)
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James (11-Oct-99 9:58:10 PM)
So 5 institutions isn't enough to disqualify alone?

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:58:15 PM)
James, maybe you can just talk about your homelessness and transience in general terms, but discuss the business in specifics.

CindyT (11-Oct-99 9:58:18 PM)
James, you have to be selective about focusing. It's a case where you need a clear overarching theme.

James (11-Oct-99 9:58:39 PM)
Cumulative GPA is a 3.9 and 770 GMAT. I just have this problem with explaining without making excuses.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:58:59 PM)
No James. I can remember one applicant who went to four undergrad institutions (I think) and then eventually ended up at a Top 3 school.

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:59:08 PM)
James, go for it!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:59:14 PM)
Those numbers are great.

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 9:59:25 PM)
Maybe you're just very particular about your institutions. :-)

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 9:59:48 PM)
If you have good work experience and a good reason for moving around it shouldn't disqualify you for all top b-schools.

James (11-Oct-99 10:00:09 PM)
Okay. Thanks for the input!

CindyT (11-Oct-99 10:00:18 PM)
Look on the positive side, if presented skillfully, it's bound to be more interesting than most essays!

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 10:00:37 PM)
Good point. Your cup must be half full.

timmys01 (11-Oct-99 10:00:42 PM)
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LAbraham (11-Oct-99 10:00:49 PM)
Thank you again for coming. Good luck!

raul (11-Oct-99 10:01:25 PM)
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Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 10:01:38 PM)
Did the Red Sox win?

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 10:01:53 PM)
Just kidding

LAbraham (11-Oct-99 10:02:00 PM)
Are you missing the Red Sox?

Paul Bodine (11-Oct-99 10:02:11 PM)
Sorry :-)

James (11-Oct-99 10:02:22 PM)
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LAbraham (11-Oct-99 10:02:23 PM)
Thank you all again. Good luck! and Good night!