After Duke, my (hoepfully) last application is at Tuck. I had actually intended the Tuck app to be my first. Wanted to apply EA but my recommender had some issues at his end and absolutely said NO to submitting within the timelimit. To be fair, he was extremely apologetic but I empathize with him as he was facing a personal issue within his family. Knowing that he would be able to provide the best reference, I waited to submit in Round 1 instead of EA.
I have realized that as we move along the application process, the quality of essays substantially increases. If I compare what I submitted at Columbia and what I will be submitting now at Tuck, there is a WORLD of difference. Does this mean applicants should save their most important apps for last? not quite. I think in this respect, admissions consultants add the maximum value as they cut to the chase and take an essay from mediocre to wow immediately. For someone like me who cannot afford the consulting service the price we pay is late realization around actual quality an individual can produce.
However, there are upsides as well. I used beatthegmat and gmatclub forums, and had many users there give me their opinions on my essays. I believe they helped me tremendously. I then used a cheaper proofreading service to check my essays for errors etc. I sent them 2 essays first, and once I got the results, I sent them the others. Was very happy with what they had done. I recommend www.proofreadingpals.com Great rates, good turnaround time and very good edits. Coming back to the upsides, I was able to make new friends, had a holistic quai consulting experience with them and now know what to compare my consultant with, if I ever hire one. Further, I did a LOT of research which I am sure I wouldn't have done if I hired an admissions consultant, as he would have all that data ready with him.
That said, all school have now released some interview invites and it is quite disheartening to read the messages on gmatclub etc. announcing interview invites. Some of the posts made by those invited to interview (how do I log in? What kind of username makes sense? When should I interview - later or sooner, what time?) are so ridiculous, it makes me clench my teeth in annoyance as to how such individuals could be interviewing at schools like Harvard! I can't speak about other demographics, but seeing Indian students pose such questions really pisses me off! I have always been someone who concentrates a lot on the softer skills (presentation, diction, dressing sense, sensibility of conversation) and hence my displeasure.
One thing I advise anyone who reads this blog and wants to get as much of 'free' stuff that they can, is to use the free editing services some companies provide. be selective here though, because everyone will give you different views and given that you feel these are credible authorities, they may end up confusing you real bad. I highly recommend essaysnark (www.essaysnark.blogspot.com) for his (or her?) humourous undertone to the GMAT and MBA admissions. I submitted an essay to them a week or two ago, and they reviewed it yesterday. (http://essaysnark.blogspot.com/2011/11/essay-critique-kellogg-career-goals_07.html)
I was very happy to get a good review from them, and the parts they have mentioned are lacking are actually present in my essay, albeit the structural issue they mentioned is very valid. I am rooting for an interview invite from Kellogg. EssaySnark too felt my essay 4 was really good, and I felt the same. But an application is an overall package so cannot really base my hopes on just one review.
I got comments on my Tuck essays from two current students. One of them gave a glowing review, another felt the content was good, but some things needed to be added/deleted and the structure modified. Will work on these before submitting on the 9th.
Here's to much more waiting ahead!