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Don’t Be ‘Joe MBA’

Don’t Be ‘Joe MBA’

As you begin to work on your Round 1 MBA materials, we have some advice for you: don’t try to be “Joe MBA.”

One of the biggest mistakes we see applicants make is assuming that the surest route to business school admission is playing it safe and doing what “everyone else” does. We hear things like, “Well my friend went to Stanford and he wrote about how he wanted to launch a start-up, so I’m going to say that, too.” Or, “My co-worker who got into Kellogg last year isn’t that different from me, so if she says my materials are fine then I should probably shouldn’t change anything.”

Remember: no two people are the same, and that’s a good thing! The key to a successful MBA application is showing exactly what you—and nobody else but you—can bring to the program. So please don’t be afraid to let your originality and your true personality come through in your materials.

Did you include a bunch of “big words”—or worse, buzzwords and industry jargon—because you thought it would make you sound like a dream candidate? We’d suggest making your responses less formal and having your friend review them again to ensure your unique voice is represented.

On that same note, if you honestly tend to spew out multiple three- and four-syllable words in a normal conversation, then it’s fine to do so in your essays. But if you have a trusted friend review what you’ve written and they remark that it sounds nothing like you, that’s a red flag.

Here’s an easy way to judge whether or not you’re on the right track: read over your materials and ask if you’d want to be in class with yourself. Are you coming across as someone who’s interesting, has a lot to share with others, and would be a great addition to any MBA program? Or do you sound like Joe MBA—accomplished, sure…but also pretty darn boring.

Think of it this way: Overcome the notion that you must be regular. It robs you of the chance to be extraordinary.

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