By John A. Byrne, contributor
(Poets&Quants) -- Sitting down at a blank computer screen and figuring out how to write a compelling essay is one of the most challenging parts of an MBA applicant's journey to business school. There are a number of essay services and admission consultants willing to help with the process.
But now a group of six Harvard Business School MBA students are launching a business that gives applicants a peek at actual essays written by recently successful candidates. Their goal is to create a database of successful essay sets and then allow potential applicants to buy them based on key criteria such as career experience, age, and whether international or domestic applicants wrote the essays.
The startup, called MBA Bee, comes out of Harvard's newly revised MBA curriculum in which student teams are given seed money by the school and then required to create a new product or service development project. The goal is to create a business model from concept to launch, though the venture's business is not endorsed by Harvard.
Turning free essays into profits
The students have persuaded their classmates to cough up the actual essays they wrote to get admitted to Harvard for free, though they are open to a possible revenue-share agreement to help them build out the business and expand to other top business schools. To protect the confidentiality of the students who hand over their essay sets, MBA Bee deletes certain identifying details from the documents.
The idea came out of a brainstorming session during which the students recognized that access to information among applicants varies widely, says May Lam, 27, a first year student who had worked in private equity before going to Harvard. Applicants from consulting and financial backgrounds tend to have far greater access to colleagues who have already been through the process and may be willing to share their application essays and offer other advice.
International, military, and other non-traditional applicants are far less likely to have access to friends or colleagues who are MBA graduates willing to allow them a peek at their essay sets. "You can find piecemeal single essays and you can also go to admissions consultants to get help," says Lam. "But we felt there is a big need in the market for essay sets so applicants can see how successful applicants told their stories from start to finish." More
International applicants account for a large portion of applicants at many U.S. business schools, but they also receive the lion's share of rejections. Applicants from India and China lead the pack of the rejected. By John A. ByrneNov 23, 2011 9:52 AM ET
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