Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I Feel Like I'm 16 Again

Okay so I thought taking the GRE would be the hardest part to get myself to do, but my goodness these grad school applications are no joke!

I am looking into the NYU Stern MBA and the third essay option is such a sign of the times:

Does that mean I am expected to do something creative here?  Will my submission be disregarded as amateurish and hurriedly put together if I don't have an impeccably directed and edited 10 minute video to include?  I understand they are only saying you can be creative, not that you must, but really, what's the subtext here?  Is this like when a woman says something is "totally fine" to mean that that thing is, in fact, totally not fine at all?

The first two essays were fine.  Why are you interested, what are your aspirations, the same things I learned to bullshit through when I was applying for colleges.  But this, this is different.

As I read it, I started to sweat.  Breathing became difficult; the air was suddenly too thick to take in easily and I panted to catch my breath.  I quickly Googled the NYU Stern Personal Experience essay and was bombarded with YouTube submission after YouTube submission, expertly crafted videos and other sort of multimedia "things" I don't even know the name for conveying to an admissions panel not only how perfect this person is for their program, but also how exceptionally creative and forward-thinking and all sorts of other great qualities that go beyond IQ they are. 

I switched back to the spreadsheet I was working on.  Could I make an Excel sheet that could somehow impress the panel while telling them more about myself, or the myself I want them to see? I wondered.  Could I develop a control module and graphic that would somehow express whatever message it is I want to send?  I can hardly even explain my job to people, let alone use my experience and knowledge of it and the software I use in a way that an admissions panel would not only find captivating but also informative.  What if I showed up and set up their network for them?  What if I sent in a video of me troubleshooting hardware problems at a huge pharmaceutical plant that ultimately ends with me saying, "Well, did you restart it?" and suddenly the problem is fixed?

In a society where we are constantly trying to outdo each other, I'm not sure that I am really capable of outdoing anyone.  Surely every idea one could think of has been done, and those that haven't been done should remain that way because they were probably stupid in the first place.  Suddenly these essays felt less about expressing myself and more about competing for attention with the flashiest submission.  I was reminded of that time in fourth grade when our teacher had us do a visual book report and my incredibly un-crafty self got a low grade for trying to do something that really reflected the message of the book while girls who I felt showed less understanding of the book in their presentations got better grades because their visuals (likely assembled by their parents!! but I'm not bitter or anything, no) had more flash.  

The application deadline for the fall semester is next week, and something tells me I'm still going to be way too worried about what I should do for this to actually do it by then.  Oh well, there's always spring.

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