Finally, I am going to share a meaningful piece of advice on application essays. This is something I noticed only now, after the scholarship results, but I realise that it helped me get admitted to INSEAD in the first place. So here goes – honesty is good. Use honesty in your essays. That’s it; lesson over.
All in all, I wrote a bunch of essays for four different scholarships. One of these I didn’t care much about, because the other scholarship looked more promising. But at the end I thought, what the hell, better to maximise my chances, so why not apply for the fourth as well? So I had this set of essays for three scholarships – very polished, very carefully constructed, positive sounding pieces of prose. And I had the essay for the fourth one, where I just told whoever is reading these things what I really thought about the subject matter. As it turned out, I had a lot to say, some of it not very nice. It sounded kinda angry even if passionate. To make things worse, I never showed that essay to anyone. In short, definitely not what I’d write if I really, really relied on that scholarship.
In the end – you guessed it – the risky essay won me a scholarship, all the others yielded were polite e-mails saying ‘your application was not successful’.
Draw your own conclusions from this. Personally I’d like to think that sometimes admissions people tend to reward honest applicants and see the polished rubbish for what it is – rubbish. I’d not go as far as to advise everyone to write angry rants in the application form, but sometimes being honest works.