Ethical Challenges in Outsourcing Admissions Essays

by Emily Jasper on December 1, 2010

BusinessWeek posted a story about companies who provide written MBA application essays to applicants at some of the top business schools. People can pay these companies, and then they can walk away with a pretty time-intensive part of their application taken care of. The business of outsourcing these essays seems to be booming, and these companies have rationalized their reasons for providing this (apparently) much needed service.


Thank goodness other people see a problem with this situation, no matter how “good” the market may be. As an MBA student myself, I know that a program’s reputation is only as good as the students it accepts. If people can’t bother to have just a little integrity in the application process, what is it going to be like during the rest of the program?

One of the excuses provided boiled down to the idea that you don’t  need to write past a certain level in your career…tell that to CEOs who send company-wide memos or the Director of Marketing reviewing press releases. Sure, you may have a team to edit or even draft communications for you, but we’ve also seen CEOs take to email and press “Send” to something that looks like a fifth grader wrote it. Don’t tell me you don’t need to know how to write in a leadership role.

And what about the writing in the rest of the program? You may go back to writing less after graduation, but MBA work is writing-intensive. If I’ve written four papers for a Statistics class, you can bet I need writing for all my coursework.

If you think it’s legit to outsource your admissions essay, then I have one word for you: Cheater. Cheater, cheater, cheater!

Don’t bring down your peers, MBA programs, and the reputations of alumni with you because you’re too lazy to spend the time it takes to get into the program. Don’t say, “Well it’s up to the admissions people to judge, and if they don’t catch me, then it’s their fault.” Yeah, and I’m sure 90% of criminals have the same logic. Are you a criminal?

If you feel your writing skills aren’t at their best, use the “Is there anything else you would like to tell us?” or open personal statement to include an explanation if it’s really going to worry you. Admissions officers look at the big picture, not just the essay. Don’t steep to a level that’s so low that we have to keep questioning if there are ethics left in business anymore.

Don’t contribute to the problem.

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