E3. Who did you get feedback from and why?
MBAs were divided on the optimal number of reviewers for essays. Many had 3 or fewer reviewers, some had more than 3. It comes down to how well you handle feedback whiplash - many different answers/opinions about the same question. See Brad Feld's article on mentor whiplash about how to manage this.
There was high agreement (73%) that a close friend or family member was a very valuable thought partner for the essays. Someone who knows you well can make sure that your authentic voice comes through.
There was also agreement (57%) that a current MBA student or recent graduate was one of the most helpful type of reviewer - they were successful, so they must know something good (which is the entire premise of Fat Envelopes :-).
Many MBAs also relied on one friend or colleague who was a professional writer or English major. Someone to make sure that i's were dotted and t's were crossed.
Only 3 people got zero feedback. And even they don't recommend that strategy.
Prepare for feedback whiplash
Had some friends who were also applying and the comraderie was nice; sometimes the essay felt like Frankenstein's monster with so much feedback
Tempting to blast it to all your friends, don't do it because you will get too much conflicting feedback
More than 3 reviewers
Family or close friend
Had my family read it because they knew me well; this sounds like you or doesn't sound like you
Didn't know many MBAs; visisted the schools, met students, asked them for help on essays
Find someone who's been through the application process; ideally, a graduate of the school you want to attend
Current MBA students or graduates are the most helpful; they were successful at getting in
Professional writer, english major
Had a professional writer and english major for proofreading; used a consultant, but that may have hurt more than helped
People who don't know you well
First thought partner was my wife, who knew me best and was analytical; and then a few others who don't know you
You need to find your authenticate voice and story; find someone who can help you be authentic