MBA Application Pitfalls
Courting your target business schools is a crucial part of the MBA application process. Admissions officers want to know that you are truly interested in attending their schools. One common way that candidates do this is by attending MBA Fairs. These (typically free) events present candidates with the opportunity to meet with admissions directors from top business schools and also to listen to presentations from leading MBA admissions experts. This summer, Personal MBA Coach Founder Scott Edinburgh will be traveling to The MBA Tour events across the US including in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Boston, Atlanta and Washington DC to present “Top 10 MBA Application Pitfalls.”
Whether you are able to make one of these presentations or not, check out a sneak preview of 5 of the most common application pitfalls below and our advice on how to avoid 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. While facilitating a career shift or career progression can be part of this reason, your essays should include the specific skills and experiences you will gain during the MBA process. Stating that you need to gain “business acumen” or “management education” is vague. Instead, do some careful thinking both about what your skill gaps are and WHY those skills are needed. This means going beyond saying, “I need to gain finance knowledge.” You should tell the reader why you want these skills and how they will help in your future roles.
#2: Not including school specifics
If you have many applications to complete (my average candidate applies to 5 schools) and a busy full-time job, it can be tempting to copy and paste across essays. This is generally not recommended. Not only does each school have a unique culture that values specific skills and experiences, but they all have different program offerings. So, take the time to do your research on 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 will use too many technical terms in resumes, essays, or even during interviews, potentially confusing or even putting off the audience. In some cases, the terms are so common in your industry that you may not even realize you are doing this. In other cases, candidates mistakenly believe that including these technical details will make them sound impressive or convey their knowledge. However, if the readers cannot follow what you are saying, you are not going to be able to show how you excelled in your role and how you were a visionary leader. Even though many admissions directors understand these terms, they are not evaluating you for your specific industry skills. Keep the language simple so that your accomplishments do not get lost in technical terms.
#4: Not answering the question
This may seem obvious, but I have read countless essays that do not answer the question. Business schools look for different qualities and characteristics. They ask specific questions to understand how well you will fit in on their campus. So instead of telling them what you think is most impressive, 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 this limited. In addition, take the time to think about the reasons behind the questions. The best answer will consider not just the WHAT but the WHY.
#5: Too much repetition
Business school candidates are well rounded and have excelled in multiple areas. Be sure that your application portrays this. 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. Include different aspects of your profile. Of course, they should all work together to paint a clear story.
Be sure to check out the complete presentation including all 10 application pitfalls at this summer’s MBA Tour. Sign up here!
Need personal support? Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, Personal MBA Coach regularly helps applicants navigate their applications each year. As the #4 ranked admissions consultant on Poets & Quants, our comprehensive support includes mock interviews with a team of former M7 interviewers and customized GMAT/GRE tutoring with tutors who scored in the 99th percentile.
Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for over 11 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!
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