Advising MBA candidates is my life’s passion. Over the last 11 years, I have given countless applicants advice through one-on-one consulting sessions, blogs, e-books, webinars and in-person presentations throughout the world.
Reflecting back on the tips I have provided again and again, I want to share my top 4 “words of wisdom” for MBA applicants.
1) Be Authentic
Do not write what you think admissions committee members want to read. A perfect candidate profile does not exist. Instead, your uniqueness will be your greatest selling point. Your essays should paint a clear picture of who you are, what motivates you and what you are passionate about. Do not feel compelled to show how you fit the mold that seemingly makes up the “ideal” candidate. If you have no desire to run a non-profit, that is ok. If you are not motivated by improving the environment, do not pretend that you are. Readers will see right through this and you could end up doing more harm than good.
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2) Craft Your Own Story
In addition to being authentic, your application as a whole should tell YOUR story. In fact, if I think about the area in which my candidates often need the most help, crafting a winning personal story comes to mind first. Defining the story may be the hardest and the most important part of the application. I advise my candidates to start this process months (if not years!) in advance. The good news? Everyone has a personal story. You may just need help figuring out how to make it shine. So, what should you include in your personal story? This will differ for every candidate but across the board I can tell you, NOT EVERYTHING! Read more about crafting your story here.
3) Broaden Your School List
While we write a lot about the M7 schools, the reality is that there are an increasing number of top programs outside of this group. Further, there can be some elements of a numbers game within the MBA application process: your profile is great but there were simply too many qualified former consultants from your native country in this year’s pool, making it even harder to stand out. This is why my average candidate applies to 5 schools. For some, this means having schools from a range of tiers. For others, this means spreading your eggs across multiple top-tier school baskets.
Of course, the target list for all candidates must match the candidate profile. Be sure that you not only have a wide enough list, but one that is reasonable based on your GPA, GMAT/GRE and professional experience. Personal MBA Coach prides itself on offering open and honest feedback on your chances of success at any given school. We want our candidates to reach high, but we also will not sugarcoat it for you.
4) Plan Ahead
If you are reading this and targeting a January 2019 application submission, that is ok! You still have time to develop winning applications (more on this here). However, if you are considering an MBA in the future, there is plenty that you can and should be doing now! Early planning can be key to success. Candidates who are applying in 1-3 years have the opportunity to make career moves, beef up their extracurricular profiles, make their jobs work harder for them and more. Personal MBA Coach offers a popular early planning package to help candidates make the right decisions NOW to achieve their career dreams.
For a more detailed and customized plan, and individualized support with various aspects of the MBA application process such as early planning, school selection, essay editing or interview preparation, visit Personal MBA Coach.
This article has been re-published from Personal MBA Coach’s blog.