Groundhog Day

Well, it's February, which means it's time to take a break from writing round three essays to re-watch Groundhog Day.  The 1993 classic Bill Murray comedy chronicles a day in the life of Phil, a weatherman who is cursed to re-live the same day over and over again.  As an MBA applicant, you can sometimes feel like this is also the curse of the application process.  Here are some tips to avoid the long and arduous grind ...

If you're like most MBA applicants, you are applying to more than one school. These days, it sometimes even makes sense to apply to five, six, or even more if you have the bandwidth.  At first, the process can be fun.  Re-visiting your experience and organizing your life is akin to Spring cleaning and can have positive effects even beyond applying to school.  It can reinvigorate your purpose and provide professional and personal swagger that may have waned in recent years or months.  But with more applications comes the risk of fatigue and the danger of making mistakes.

One at a time

If you find yourself waking up each morning to the same application routine, there are several things you can do which will hopefully get you on track much faster than Phil the weatherman.  For starters, make sure you are only working on one application at a time.  Even though many schools have similar questions, by focusing on one school, you are more inclined to articulate genuine fit if you steep yourself in that school's culture and attributes.  

Set them aside

Secondly, I recommend doing something I like to call "shelving" your applications.  When you finish that last essay, put everything aside and let it rest before you submit.  By shelving an application and moving on to another school, you can often return to that application later with a fresh perspective.  You can also sometimes incorporate additional tweaks that come from working on other schools.  As long as you manage your deadlines well, you can circle back and polish off your earlier applications with the helpful process of rumination and rest.  Of course having your consultant read your essays all together as a finished set is a great idea, which is easy to do if you follow this process of one school at a time and shelving.  

Don't cut and paste

Finally, you should avoid the temptation to cut and paste content.  Sure the theme of questions among schools can be similar, but cutting and pasting always risks two critical components of essay writing: 1) not answering the question, and 2) including irrelevant content/mistakes.  Even though questions may seem similar, if you really press in, you will find subtleties that warrant original composition.  Don't be may surprise yourself when you re-write content that can work for multiple questions.  It forces your brain to take a different perspective and can even open up new ideas and better approaches to your story.  Try to pretend that you lost your other writing in a computer crash and take a fresh stab with each question.  If you go back and discover a really great way to express something---and it's so great that writing it any other way would be detrimental, then go ahead and use it.  But always go back and re-read the question to make sure you're not just taking the easy way out.

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