For as long as schools have been requiring students to write essays, students have been trying to find ways to get out of doing them. We all know why: writing is tough! It requires skill, research, a lot of patience. and plenty of time.
Finding time in particular is always the most difficult part, especially because business school applicants have so many things going on at once. Between juggling their current jobs, creating multiple applications, studying for the GMAT and attending to personal obligations, it comes as no surprise that some students look for a shortcut when it comes time to writing their business school application essays.
Because of this, schools are on the lookout for students who are trying to cut corners, and there are many technological solutions that help them hunt down potential cheaters. For example, Penn State’s Smeal College of Business uses a software program called iParadigms that will test applications for cheating- about 8% of applicants are found to have cheated on their essays each year, according to Carrie Marcinkevage, the MBA managing director at Penn State. According to The Economist, almost 40 business schools are using such software.
What does this mean for MBA applicants? Despite the urge to cheat or the desperation to get into a top business school, plagiarism just is not worth it. Why? Well for starters, you will have no chance at being admitted to your school of choice if you are caught cheating. Even the most lackluster application has a greater than 0% at just about every school, but cheating is the one thing that will for sure keep your application out.
Secondly, if you do get in to a business school and are caught cheating later on, not only will you be kicked out of that school and lose a significant amount of money, but if you try to go to a different school in the future, your record of being kicked out of your previous school will follow you, and most likely be taken into consideration with your new application.
While not plagiarism, a different form of cheating has also become very prevalent in business school essays, but is possibly harder to detect: many applicants will now pay to have their essay written for them. Admission consultants are regularly asked if they will write an applicants essays for them, and the answer is always a resounding no.
Why is this just as bad an idea as traditional plagiarism? Well, if you aren’t capable of getting into a school on your own, it is probably not likely that you will succeed if you are admitted – a stranger writing your application essay for you will not change this. Secondly, if you are admitted with the help of a stellar essay you did not write yourself, you could be taking away a spot from a far more deserving candidate who actually did the work on their own.
So while you might feel that your only way into business school is by taking shortcuts, rethink your decision to cheat. The best way to avoid the pressure that might cause you to take this path is to allow yourself plenty of time when it comes to your applications. Even if this means going to school one year later than you planned, it will give you the time to complete a compelling application and one done entirely on your own.
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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.