x drafts + y rewrites = ?

MBA applicants around the world are starting to lock themselves away with laptops and immersing themselves in their essays. Unless they haven’t started yet or still brushing up their GMAT in which case that last sentence won’t help at all.

I came across a rather extraordinary exchange on a prominent forum the other day, that went a little like this;

Applicant 1: I’m 3 drafts down for HBS and done 2 drafts for Wharton….

Applicant 2: I’m on draft 4 for HBS

Applicant 3: I’ve done 6 drafts for HBS already!!!

Applicant 1: Man, I need to write faster. I suck at writing essays.

I think that really sums up my point. Since when did more drafts equal more quality? Who has six genuine separate stories that they need to tell the admissions team of their chosen school? Absolutely no-one, that’s who.

Maybe its because graduate business applicants by their nature are quantitative-heavy in general, they feel the need to measure themselves in such discreet terms. I’m sure that some applicants feel less than secure about their message and that they also need to brag about these stats online. And I’m absolutely certain that no-one who writes ‘6 drafts’ as they put it has any 1 draft that makes a good essay.


“A number-of-draft to quality ratio can be expressed with an inverse exponential equation”… Seriously, just shut the f%$* up!

I’m certainly working on my essays. How many drafts have I written? Well, for the one’s I’ve started worked on maybe 1.5 – 2.5? Its rare I complete tear up a draft and start again. I take bits out, I put bits in, I take bits out again. I cut down words, I use simpler clearer vocabulary. But I don’t start all over again, and I have no idea how many ‘drafts’ I’ve written.

I don’t come from any genuine experience, but I do have a good gut feeling about some of these things. If you’re out there, locked in your room, furiously crossing whole essays out with red pen, relax and write something about you that is true and matters. I’m sure it’ll be a better essay.

I’ll put the unusual rage displayed in this post down to light cabin-fever…


Stuck in the middle with… my essays

Traffic - my worst enemy

Traffic – my worst enemy

I had a new experience this weekend, I gained a flat tire on a noisy British motorway. Unfortunately it was on a main route to the ferry ports in the South-East England, meaning a huge goods vehicle thundered past every 10 seconds inches away from where I crouched and struggled with a small and slightly plastic-y compact vehicle jack.

After almost falling backwards from my crouched position for the third time into a certain death, I caught myself doing something even more ridiculous. I am getting MBA application essays on the brain. Even before I’d finished tightening the wheel nuts I was trying to work this latest episode into a “Tell me about a time you’ve triumphed in adversity” essay (maximum 500 words).

I furnished my story in my head with images of myself standing on top of my vehicle in celebration, or flagging down a heavily laden lorry to save a small bunny rabbit that had strayed into the road from the grassy verges (Stamford would love this stuff, so I’ve heard. Throw in a bit of landmine-clearing or other animal saving activities while I’m at it…)

Having changed over in a rather impressive time for a first timer that would make some pro-racing teams proud – that Engineering degree wasn’t for nothing kids – I retreated home. I need to make some better essay progress and the semi-thrashed notes in my head just aren’t working, or at least fast enough.

So an enforced day at home after a trip to the garage involved roughly 50% tennis viewing and 50% essay structuring. I’ve not gone full-technicolor spreadsheet with all my essays, but I have constructed a list of titles, deadlines and a rough essay sequence to get drafts done. I feel better already! I won’t when I miss all my self-imposed deadlines…

Juggling my work responsibilities between now and the end of September (as well as having to help plan a wedding – yeah well, like it wasn’t enough of a challenge already?) is going to be causing some serious stresses and strains ahead so hopefully this bit of planning will ease some of my worries.