Why is it that in a country where English is not spoken as widely as it is in India, the number of students accepted at the Ivies has increased three-fold in the last ten years. ‘The Chinese make up an impressive 27% of the population at the Ivies, while Indians comprised of 9.7% of all international students at the colleges.’
Are Indians simply not interested? or Is it something more? Let’s assume that you are planning to create a B-School application and for the sake of argument, the following are a given:
- You will get a high score at GMAT (750/800) (feels good right!)
- You will qualify the English proficiency tests TOEFL/IELTS
- You have academic grades that are decent
- You have relevant work experience to boast of
- You have at least two people who will give you a good recommendation
- You can make a resume – it’s only facts in an order… Does this guarantee your place at an Ivy League?
Do the Admission guards at Princeton, Brown, Harvard pop-up their heads in delight and say, ‘Come, come dear ones, we were just waiting for you’ ? Perhaps Not.
Time and again, university representatives have shared how disappointing it is reading an application that reads high on numbers but is creatively ‘flat’. You can be a nerd, a drop-out, a wannabe pop-star, a space enthusiast, an editor, a sports junkie…who ever you are, it is important that your application reflects who you are and not just what you have achieved.
The important question is: Do you believe in your own brand?
And the only place where you get a chance to put yourself out there is in the College essays section. You say: ‘So what’s the big deal? We can write essays. We’ve been writing essays since grade three.’ Well that’s perhaps at the root of the problem. We are taught the Intro-Body-Conclusion format and told how to write? We are corrected, imposed upon, spell-checked, grilled on grammar and we even learn to write ‘model answers’ to the most asked essay topics! And then in the journey of our lives, we chance upon an Ivy League application and a question that asks us:
“If you could put a message in a bottle, what would it say?”
– Oops! Did I hear you say that this was not in the curriculum!
Does it matter now, how well you can write? OR How well can you think?
At the same time, there are essays like this one from Columbia Business School: Please tell us about yourself and your personal interests. The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are rather than what you have achieved professionally. (Maximum of 500 words)
No. No. No. Don’t just start drafting the answer as yet. Read it again and get into pre-writing mode (don’t know what that is? I will try and cover that in my next blog). What is important is to structure your thoughts and able to present the best and most honest representation of yourself.
So the fight is not between the dragons and the elephants, it’s the inner giant that needs to be awakened!