1. Business schools only want candidates with a certain career background
While it is true that there are certain career paths where an MBA is common (e.g. Consulting and Investing Banking), there is no one ideal pre-MBA career. In fact, a unique career background can actually work in your favor. Business schools desire well rounded classmates and appreciate the unique perspective that candidates with non-traditional backgrounds can bring to class conversations. The key is to show how your past experience and perspective can be leveraged during your future career path.
2. Schools want you to tell them how wonderful they are
Far too often I read about how an applicant will leverage Wharton’s “unmatched” alumni network or grow through Booth’s “renowned” curriculum. While all business schools want to know that you are truly interested in their programs, using over-the-top praise is not an effective way to articulate this message. Instead, do your research and share thoughtful elements of their programs that you are looking to take advantage of. Ensure that these elements are specific to you and make sense relative to your background and goals.
3. You need to fit in everything you have accomplished
Many candidates are tempted to throw everything but the kitchen sink into their essays. There is a concern that they will hurt their chances of success if they do not tell admissions committee members about everything they have done. However, this is not the case. A few well-told stories that clearly demonstrate what makes you unique will be far more compelling. Show your passions and leadership by sharing how you did a few things exceptionally well.
4. There is a “right” career goal.
You may be tempted to mention a career goal you think admissions committee members want to hear. Just because it is common for applicants to pursue consulting or investment banking does not mean this is the career path you should aspire to. Admissions committee members want passionate students and well-rounded classes. So write about what you really want to do, provided it is logical and attainable, and articulate it well. (Check out our blog on articulating your career goals here.)
5. You should only apply to a few schools
Years ago, applicants may have only targeted a few business schools. However, today my average applicant applies to 5 schools. The number of strong MBA programs is increasing. As more and more universities are investing in their business schools, candidates have numerous good options to consider. Simultaneously (and unsurprisingly), the applicant pool is becoming even more competitive, meaning that countless extremely qualified candidates are rejected each year. While it is true that MBA applications are time-consuming and each application is unique, successful applicants make the investment by applying to additional schools. This strategy ensures they are ultimately successful getting into the best possible school.
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