Scott Edinburgh
August 18, 2023

Top 10 MBA Application Mistakes

Man Frustrated with MBA Application

At Personal MBA Coach we have been helping clients develop winning MBA applications through our Comprehensive MBA Packages for 16 years. Over that time, we have seen the same mistakes in MBA applications time and time again (in either first drafts from our clients or final MBA essay submissions from non-clients). Regardless of how these mistakes came to be, it would be easy to write a lengthy book with failed MBA Application Samples.  

While we respect our clients and competitors too much to do so, we would like to help you prevent these same mistakes in your MBA applications. So below, we have shared the 10 MBA application mistakes we see most, along with tips on how to avoid making them.

1) Stating a vague reason for wanting an MBA

Although an MBA may be viewed as a “check the box” degree in some professions, this is NOT a message that should come across in your MBA applications. You should have a clear reason for wanting an MBA, detailing the skills you hope to gain and how they will help in your future roles.

2) Not including school specifics

While it can be tempting to copy and paste across essays, this is not recommended. Take the time to research the courses, professors and programs that are the best match for your future aspirations and include these details in your essays.

3) Using too many industry buzzwords

Many candidates use too many technical terms in resumes, essays, or even during interviews, potentially confusing or even putting off the audience. Keep the language simple so that your accomplishments do not get lost in technical terms. For other tips on how to write winning MBA application essays, check this blog.

4) Not answering the question

This may seem obvious, but we have read countless essays that do not answer the question. If the question says: “Do not repeat your resume,” then do not write 300 words on your accomplishments. While including some details may be needed for context, keep these limited.

5) Too much repetition

While you may have a very impressive role or accomplishments, this does not mean you need to mention them in every essay and in your LORs. Instead, think about your entire story and everything you have to offer.

6) Asking your company’s CEO to write your LOR

Unless you work very closely with your company’s CEO, they are not a good choice to write you a letter of recommendation. Instead, consider who knows you well and will be able to compare you to your peers. Watch this quick tips video to learn more about letters of recommendation:

7) Lack of consistency across the application

All your application components should be consistent, including your letters of recommendation. An application that fails to do so will not be perceived as genuine.

8) Not properly engaging with the school

By engaging with your target schools, you are communicating to the admissions committee that you truly want to attend their program. Engagement opportunities include talking to students, attending MBA fairs, and visiting campus, to name a few. Here are a few tips on how to engage with schools:

9) Using job description bullets on your resume​

Your MBA resume should sell your future potential. Rather than proving that you can do a particular job, use your MBA resume to highlight your strengths and leadership experience.

10) Having illogical career goals

In general, be specific and decisive when stating your MBA goals. It can be challenging to communicate true passion for goals that are illogical or not genuine.

Do you want comprehensive MBA application support to ensure you do not make any of these mistakes? Reach out today!

Already drafted your MBA applications but looking for a professional review? Personal MBA Coach offers a limited number of Gut Check packages each round.