The Tuesday Q&A: Getting Someone To Write Your Essays

MBA FAQ, MBA frequently asked questions, bschool questions, mba questionsQuestion:

I’m not very good at English. Can I have someone else write my app essays?



Normally, I’d open up a Q&A response with a clever or subtle lead-in, but when it comes to a question this serious, I’ve just got to be direct. This is one of the most important questions we’ve gotten, so let’s explain the one-word answer.

The application process is an evaluation of the candidate, right? It’s not just about GPA or test scores or community service or awards. It’s about demonstrating your writing and communication skills through your essays. It’s about hearing “your voice,” recognizing your personality and unique voice through your own expressions. If someone else writes your essays for you, the adcom doesn’t get to hear that voice. They don’t get to see your writing skills. Besides, if your writing scores aren’t great on your tests, or your GPA is low because of low English skills, how likely is the adcom to believe that you’re writing perfectly written essays?

Most importantly here, though, is the issue of integrity. If you get someone else to write your application essays, why would the college think that you wouldn’t do the same for assignments in your classes? This is about you doing your own work. If English is a problem for you, the adcom needs to know that. You can even use it as an angle in your essays, if you play it right. Use it as a goal you have in the college experience. Talk about how the efforts you’ve made to learn English – speaking with more fluent English speakers to learn more, taking classes, etc.

So, it may be tempting. As you work on your applications, it may even seem smart. But do NOT get someone else to write your app essays. It’s unfair to you, and it’s unfair to the school. Give it your best shot, and show them that your limited English skills do NOT define you.

–Jon Frank

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