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Essays ARE Important – But Only in Context

There's no question that essays play an important part in b-school admissions, Senior Consultant Mark Meyerrose says but some applicants have the wrong idea about why essays are important, or what admissions committees look for when they read them.

First off, says Mark, application essays are not about fine writing or polished rhetoric. "As an admissions officer, when I was looking at these essays, I was not looking for internal contradictions or smooth transitions," says Mark. "I was moving too fast. I had the quota of reading 30-plus applications per day and that was on top of my interviewing and other admissions duties.

"What I wanted to know was 'What are his (the applicant's) goals?' 'How is he going to get there?' 'What will he contribute?' 'Would I want to have coffee with him?', and so on. Once I found answers to those questions, I moved on. I wasn't focusing on parsing each sentence or paragraph."

The important thing about essays, Mark says, is that they should clearly communicate the points the applicant wants to get across.

"Your essays, while important, are only one part of the bigger picture. Your readers will think about them, but not nearly as much as you will have. My advice is, make your goals, etcetera, perfectly clear and make sure you say it articulately.

"This is where effective writing does make a difference," says Mark. "It helps a reader understand what you want him to. My point here is, good writing makes for easy reading."

– Mark is a former Associate Director of Admissions for the Tuck School of Business.

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