"I've gained a lot in thinking through my plans and articulating them."

- GP, Wharton '06


What Not to Do in September

If you take your essays to your friend who went to HBS, he will feel compelled to give you some sort of advice, he will be energized by the pleasure of counseling someone who wants something he already has, and it is likely that he will assume he knows both what HBS wants this year and how he himself was admitted. He has not worked through your story or your options nor has he ever sat on an admission committee. But he wants to help. Take his advice at your peril. Don't email your essays to your buddy at Bain.

What Not to Do in October

In the holiday break, it is common to want to throw out an answer — sometimes the whole application — and start over. Reading your efforts for the eighth time, you lose all sense of their coherence and quality and, in a panic, veer from the plan and, often upon the advice of a book, friend or well-intentioned boss, suddenly decide your third accomplishment should be your first-grade piano recital. Resist this temptation. Believe in your work; your veteran line — not the unseasoned rookie from the bench — has the best chance to score. Don’t start over.

What Not to Do in November

Late drafts should be the full application with a hearty confidence that "This is the best I can do." It's easy to get drawn into worthless tinkering if you don't feel you’ve done your best thinking to prepare for the writing. You may be preparing multiple applications but each one needs to seem unique and discrete; if you are cutting and pasting at all, read carefully for the kind of errors this can create, particularly the tribute to Manhattan that ends up in your University of Chicago essay. Grind in November; polish in December.