London Business School 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

 This London Business School 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at http://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/tag/2011-mba-application-tips. My tips for answering LBS’s essay questions are in red below.

London Business School 2011 MBA Essay Questions

The Admissions Committee will consider carefully your answers to the following questions.  Please complete all of the essay questions beginning your answer below each question and giving word counts for each answer.  Once complete, please attach this document to your online application following the instructions given on the web form.  

Question 1 (750 words)
Give us a brief assessment of your career progress to date.
In what role do you see yourself working in immediately after graduation and what is your longer term career vision?
How will your past and present experiences help you to achieve this?
How will the London Business School MBA Programme contribute to this goal?
Why is this the right time for you to pursue an MBA? 

This is a classic goals question. Last year it focused on short-term goals, and a separate question asked about long-term goals. This year it asks about both short-term, post-MBA goals and long-term “career vision.”  How did you develop this goal? This vision? Why does it appeal to you? How did your experiences shape your goal and how do they reveal the appropriateness of your goal. (If you are a couch-potato or klutz, don’t say you want to be a professional athlete–which wouldn’t be a match for b-school anyway.)  Finally, how will LBS help you achieve your goal?

Caution: Don’t repeat your resume in your response to this question. Choose 1-3 influential and impressive experiences to show how your aspirations developed and your qualifications for LBS.

Question 2 (300 words)
Give a specific example of when you have had to test your leadership and team working skills. Given this experience what role will you play in a first year study group?

Very similar to last year’s #3. First of all learn about the role of study groups at London Business School. Also, reflect on your experience in teams. If you have been involved in teams outside of work and your other essays focused on work, then this essay presents an opportunity to discuss another facet of your life. Have you been able to both lead and occasionally take a back seat when others with skills or qualifications you lack are better prepared to lead your team? After thinking about your team experience and the role of study groups at LBS, show how your past experience will help you contribute to your study group.

Question 3 (300 words)
Student involvement is an extremely important part of the London Business School MBA experience and this is reflected in the character of students on campus. Please describe how you will contribute to student clubs and the community and why?

You need to research student life at LBS before you can answer this question. The best answers will directly respond to all elements in the question by showing that you have been involved in similar college, community, or professional organizations in the past. And you will be able to illustrate your abilities to contribute at LBS by discussing your earlier contributions. Don’t forget to answer “and why.”

Question 4 (300 words)
London Business School offers a truly global and diverse experience. Describe any significant experiences outside of your home country or culture. What did you gain and how will your experience contribute to London Business School?

This question reflects the importance of international and cross-cultural experiences for London Business School. Note the word limit here. Short and sweet. What were the most 1-2 significant experiences you have had outside your home country and what did you learn from them? How will you consequently contribute?

Question 5  

Please choose ONE of the following options. 

Providing a choice is a new move for London Business School. Choose the essay that will allow you to write with enthusiasm about an area of your life or achievement that you have not yet discussed.

Question 5a (150 words)
You have decided to stand for the role of Student Association President. Announcing your campaign to the London Business School community for the first time, please describe your manifesto.

This may be difficult to answer if you have not been involved in student government and certainly would be a very difficult essay to write if you don’t have a clear idea of what you would do as Student Association President. On the other hand, if you have really studied student life at LBS and have a clear idea of what you would like to accomplish, go for it.

Question 5b (150 words)
What is your most substantial achievement to date and why?

The essay is short, and the topic is broad. Be succinct. Show how your accomplishment achieved impact, contribution,

Question 6 (300 words) (This question is optional)
Is there any other information that you believe would help the MBA Admissions Committee when considering your application

Please see “The Optional Question: To Be or Not to Be “

Question 7 (300 words)(This question is for re-applicants only)
How has your candidacy for the London Business School MBA improved since your last application? Have your views of London Business School or the MBA programme changed since you last applied?

This is THE key question for all reapplicants. London just asks it explicitly. Please see:

Question 8
Please provide a CV/Resume. This CV must only be one page in length. If you have any significant gaps in your employment history, please tell us why on a separate sheet.

Go beyond mere job description to highlight achievement. If your title is “consultant.” Saying that you “consulted on projects” is uninformative at best. If you are a financial analyst boasting that you did financial analysis states the obvious. Writing that you “Led a 6-member team working on a biotech outsourcing project to Slovakia with a budget of $X. It came in on time and under budget” conveys infinitely more. For more information, please see Admissions Resume: What to Include.”

 If you would like help with your London Business School MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and admissions consulting or an LBS Package, which offers soup-to-nuts advising and editing for the LBS MBA application.

LBS 2011 Application Deadlines

Stage 1: October 6, 2010

Stage 2: January 5, 2011

Stage 3: March 2, 2011

Stage 4: April 20, 2011

 

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

GMAT Math Tip: Halving and Doubling

Doing well on the GMAT is a function of accuracy and timing.  With only 75 minutes to complete 37 math questions, you have approximately 2 minutes to complete each question.  You need to find ways save time, and the “halving and doubling” math tip described in the video and examples below will help you do that.

Let’s take a look at an example in which halving and doubling can save you time:

18 x 6

Note that you can construct a new equation with the same product by halving one number and doubling the other number.  Because many students are more comfortable with 12x multiplication rather than 18x multiplication, let’s halve 18 and double 6 to create the following equation:

18 x 6
= (18/2) x (6 x 2)
= 9 x 12
= 108

Let’s try another example:

16 x 5.5

You can create an equivalent equation by halving 16 and doubling 5.5 to get the following:

16 x 5.5
= (16/2) x (5.5 x 2)
= 8 x 11
= 88

Let’s try a more complicated problem: 

2.25 x 36

In the example below we will apply the technique twice, effectively multiplying one number by 4 and the other by 1/4.

2.25 x 36
= 4.5 x 18
= 9 x 9
= 81

Today’s article was brought to you by Beat The GMAT and Magoosh.  To try more practice questions with similar video explanations, check out Smart GMAT Practice, which launches on July 7, 2010.


2011 MIT Sloan EMBA Essay Tips

This MIT EMBA 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at http://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/tag/2011-mba-application-tips. Our tips for answering the MIT EMBA essay questions are in blue below.

Looking at the 2011 MIT Sloan EMBA essay questions holistically, it’s clear that they seek to draw out a person who, assuming basic qualifications, is focused and self-aware, and also confident and mature enough to change and adapt when warranted.  The questions convey a balance of broad and specific.  The statement of purpose and essay 1 present a more conceptual challenge, and essays 2 and 3 probe your ability to take action and then identify and communicate your motivations and rationale for it.  Another way these essays summon a holistic perspective is in asking you to discuss your purpose for pursuing the EMBA, which presumably relates to your future goals, followed in the last question by a request to identify a time that you have pursued, and met a goal (albeit organizational).  Given how these essays interrelate, I suggest sketching out your topics for each and ensuring that they resonate as a whole before writing.  For example, for the objective you portray in the statement of purpose, you might select stories for essays 2 and/or 3 that amplify some experience, knowledge, skill, or quality that would support that objective.  Finally, note that the essays enable you to discuss either all professional topics or a mix of work and non-work.

  • A statement of purpose, indicating your qualifications and why you are pursuing the MIT Sloan MBA for Executives. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

I suggest starting by conceptualizing the second part of this question (why you are pursuing the MBA) first.  Presumably the reason relates to your professional goals and objectives.  However, do not focus only what you want to do, i.e., become the CIO, but rather on what you want to accomplish for the organization and/or its customers/market – the former will be competent and acceptable, the latter will be exciting and will have a better chance of  turning your readers into your cheerleaders.  This goals/objectives portion should be succinct.  The details come in the next portion: how the goals/objectives require the learning that the Sloan MBA for Executives will provide.

In selecting the qualifications to discuss, remember that the adcom will have your resume.  Hence, you don’t have to present all your qualifications.  Select those that (a) are really distinctive and relevant to the MBA and/or (b) support your goals directly or indirectly. Have a short point to make about each, such as the insight it lends or its influence on you.

Three essays (all three are required of all candidates):

  • The educational mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to “develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world.” Please discuss how you will contribute toward advancing this mission. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This is a relatively open question.  Early in the essay, briefly convey what “improving the world” means to you, creating context. For the “how,” you can discuss factors outside of work as well as work-related.  There is a danger lurking: “… how you will contribute” – the use of the word “will” might lead you to cast the whole essay in the future tense.  You do have to address how you will contribute, but your answer will have more credibility if you cite a previous time or two when you already have contributed toward the stated mission.  The bulk of the essay will focus on how you will do so in the future – don’t give a list of 10 ways, but identify 1 to 3 and provide some succinct but meaningful discussion of them.  Your future contributions may be related to your goals, or you may cite other initiatives.  Bear in mind that the stated mission is not just “improving the world,” but “to develop principled, innovative leaders” who do so.

  • Please describe a time when you changed your opinion, and why. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Since you will write about work in the statement of purpose, and probably essay 1 and 3, you can choose a work or non-work topic here – whichever best illuminates and enhances your profile.  While the essay doesn’t require it, I believe the essay will have more substance and heft if you can find a topic that involves your taking some action based on your change of opinion.  Also, choose something not too far in the past, ideally within the last few years.  First, tell the story (no  need for an introduction in this short essay – just jump into the story).  If you use the story approach, the “why” will appear naturally as you progress in the narrative.  But still provide a short summary paragraph reflecting on the “why,” and ideally showing the action you took as a result.

  • Please discuss an occasion when your resources and time were limited and you needed to achieve a significant organizational goal. What did you do, and how did you do it? (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This essay will offer evidence in the application that you meet goals and that you make things happen when faced with real-world constraints (as all executives are)—you literally move the organization forward.  Hence, choose a story that is substantive, and one that occurred within the last few years – the bigger the impact, the better.  If you have some good stories to choose from, think about other factors you might like to highlight in your essay for strategic purposes: international dimension (in a given region or generally), leadership in a given context such as healthcare or IT, integrating organizations due to a merger or acquisition, etc.  Here too keep the structure simple: present the story straight off, skipping an explanatory intro paragraph.  As you describe what you did, integrate how you did it, going right through the narrative.  No fancy ending needed; just a concise summary sentence or two.

The MIT EMBA application deadline is August 15.

If you want to start now on your MIT EMBA application, please keep in mind that Accepted.com is running an Early Bird Special: 10% off all MBA essay consulting and editing.  Consider also our MIT EMBA Consulting and Editing Packages.They too are 10% off thru July 31.

By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Success, The Consultants’ Guide to MBA Admission, The EMBA Edge, and author of several articles and the free, email mini-course, “Ace the EMBA.” Also author of the  NEW online mini-course, Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Choosing the One for You.

Learn More:

 

The Relative Unimportance of High School Rankings

There are people, institutions, school districts and media organizations that care a tremendous amount about the Newsweek ranking of America’s Best High Schools, which was released last week.  The rankings are based upon the number of Advanced Placement exams (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or Cambridge exams given in the school divided by the number of students in the senior class — a statistic that should measure academic challenge available and undertaken in a specific school.  The  rankings included 1600 high schools, or about 6%.  Our local news organizations jumped on the idea that our comprehensive high schools made the list.  Amusingly enough, a high school in Texas made both the America’s Best list and a list of failing schools, which demonstrates the manipulability of statistics.

Does it matter if your school made the list?  When it comes to applying to college, not really.  Selective colleges take great care to evaluate each student within the context of the high school that he or she attends.  As your transcript is evaluated, the admissions officer is looking at your grades and class rank (if provided), and the rigor of the curriculum that you have chosen to take.  If AP or IB courses are available, then they expect you to have challenged yourself in several facets of the curriculum.  At the other extreme, if you attend a high school that offers little in the way of advanced courses, it won’t be held against your application. If you are not challenged by the standard offerings in your school, you might want to look to your community for other ways that you can challenge yourself academically.  Are there online courses, community college classes or summer programs that will quench your academic thirst?

 By Whitney Bruce, who has worked in college admissions since 1996. She has served as an Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (Washington U), Application Reader (University of Michigan), Assistant Director of College Counseling (private prep school in St. Louis), and an independent college counselor. She is happy to advise you as you apply to college.


It’s not too late to start volunteering!

Yes, you can keep yelling at yourself for not starting earlier, but that won’t get you anywhere, will it? Instead, start volunteering now.

It’s true that adcoms would rather see a long history of community service rather than just a short stint, but you can’t turn back the clock. You can start now.

Why is community service so important, you ask? B-schools (and all graduate programs, for that matter) are looking for individuals who will be good leaders on the job, in their communities, and as alumni. Your past commitment to a community service activity helps prove to the adcoms that you are a committed, dedicated person.

Not sure where to start? We recently learned about the USA Leadership Corps. If you’re interested in helping small businesses and social entrepreneurs promote their ventures, then you may qualify to serve as a mentor or consultant for the USALC. Contact the Corps for more information.

Another option for those interested in social entrepreneurship is DoSomething.org‘s new grant opportunity program. If you have a sustainable community action project, program, or idea, especially if it focuses on Diabetes Awareness, the Special Olympics, or Volunteerism, then you may qualify for a Do Something grant. The application deadline is July 15, 2010.

Let us know if you need help thinking of other community service ideas, or please feel free to post if you have ideas on the subject you’d like to share.

Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Use Spellcheck and Proofread Your Entire Application

Spellcheck will not pick up words used incorrectly, poor grammar, or run-on sentences. Proofread your personal statement very carefully. Read your essay, reread your essay, then reread your essay again. Does it make sense to you? Allow some time to lapse between readings. If you read your essay twelve times in the same day obvious errors may be easily missed. Let a day or two pass, then revisit your essay again. This will allow you to look at it with a fresh perspective.

Then have someone else read your personal statement, preferably someone who does not know you very well. Does it make sense to him or her? Does he or she get a good sense of who you are and the message that you are trying to convey? Keep in mind that this is the only part of the application where you really have the opportunity to individualize yourself outside your numbers. Will the reader be left with a strong impression of who you are, what you are all about, and your suitability for a career in medicine?

Related Resources:

This post is excerpted from 101 Tips on Getting Into Medical School by Jennifer C. Welch, who has served as the Director of Admissions at SUNY Upstate Medical School since 2001.


GMAT Math Tip: U-Substitution

Finding ways to turn complex problems into simple ones is a valuable skill when taking the GMAT.  U-substitution is a technique that can help accomplish this.  It will save you time and decrease the likelihood that you will make a mistake.  In the following video and example, we examine u-substitution in more detail.

?

Below is a GMAT math problem on which you can apply the u-substitution technique.

If (3x + 1)2 – 14(3x+1) + 49 = 0 then x =
                 
(A) -7
(B) -3
(C) 2
(D) 6
(E) 7

The first step is identifying the common element (3x + 1 in this example.)  Then rewrite the equation substituting u for 3x + 1:

Let u = 3x + 1
u2 – 14u + 49 = 0

Factor the equation, and solve for u:

(u – 7)(u – 7) = 0
u – 7 = 0
u = 7

Now that you have solved for u, solve for x:

3x + 1 = u
3x + 1 = 7
3x = 6
x = 2

The answer is C, 2.

Today’s article was brought to you by Beat The GMAT.  To try more practice questions with similar video explanations, check out Smart GMAT Practice.

Kellogg 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips.

UPDATE- The tips for Kellogg’s 2012 Application are now available online. Please post questions or comments to the new post.

This Kellogg 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at http://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/tag/2011-mba-application-tips. My tips for answering Kellogg’s are in red below.


Northwestern Kellogg 2011 MBA Essay Questions

My comments are in red. This year’s essay questions are similar to last year, with a bit of reshuffling. Kellogg also rephrases a couple of questions and asks new question in essay 4. Finally, Kellogg requests four essays this year, as opposed to five last year.

Essay #1 –MBA Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing an MBA. (600 word limit)

This question is the same as Kellogg’s #1 for the last several years. Kellogg wants to know your goals and the ways you believe Kellogg will help you achieve them. As I have said repeatedly, post-MBA goals are front and center in many MBA applications, certainly in the ones that ask you about your aspirations. You need to connect the dots between your past, your desired future, and Kellogg to answer this question well. Thought and research are prerequisites.

When writing an earlier Kellogg tip, I referenced an email from a client. In the email, he thanked his editor for pushing him to clarify his goals — which he hadn’t wanted to do. He acknowledged how important they are. Make sure you know why you want an MBA before you start to answer this question.

Essay #2 – Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experiences. (600 word limit)

Kellogg is famous for its teamwork, and it certainly wants students with strong teamwork skills, but it also wants leaders. Don’t be taken in by Kellogg’s teamwork mantra and laid-back reputation. Employers wants to see leadership in Kellogg’s grads, and you need to show leadership in your application — especially in answering this question.

This essay allows you to both spotlight your outstanding leadership skills and show your knowledge of Kellogg. Go beyond your response to #1 and focus here on leadership. A corollary of this tip would be to use #1 to focus on non-leadership aspects of your experience i.e. teamwork.

As usual, you don’t have a lot of room to elaborate. Choose 1-2 examples not discussed in depth elsewhere in the application. Discuss how Kellogg’s leadership development programs will allow you to build on your past experiences.

Essay #3 – Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would you and your peers select you for admission, and what impact would you make as a member of the Kellogg community? (600 word limit)

Let’s go back to the first part of the question that asks you to “evaluate your application.” Does that wording imply the kind of objectivity your grandmother provides? Definitely not. Clearly you are trying to market yourself so you should emphasize the positive and provide a cogent argument for acceptance using Kellogg’s criteria, but most of you will have weaknesses in your profile. What compensates for them? Why should Kellogg admit you despite your weakness? This is a great place to show why a substandard GMAT or GPA should be overlooked.

In general you want each essay to reveal something new about your experience. How can you do so with this question, which by its very nature requires you to use the information found in other parts of your application? Include at least one or two elements that you either discussed in your interview or intend to discuss in your interview. Or go into more depth about something mentioned in an application box or your resume, but clearly this essay is not going to provide a lot of new information.

Essay #4 – Complete one of the following three questions or statements. (400 word limit)
Re-applicants have the option to answer a question from this grouping, but this is not required.

a) Describe an instance where you encountered resistance in a professional team setting. How did you address the situation?

Similar to last year’s question about making an unpopular decision.  Let’s explore a few elements of this question. It is only 400 words. It does not ask for a treatise on handling opposition or working in teams. It requests an example from a professional setting, so sports and extra-curricular experiences won’t fit. It asks you to “describe an instance” (emphasis added), not multiple times. It asks for a story, an anecdote. Yes in discussing this incident, you can draw a conclusion or two about handling resistance, achieving consensus, motivation, or leadership , but keep your response succinctly experiential.

b) People may be surprised to learn that I….

If professional activities dominate essays 1-3, this is an opportunity for you to shine a bright light on your favorite hobby or passion. Do you juggle, bike, run, cook, drum,  trek, save the world, or? Let the reader know a highlight of your experience and why you do it. Also, address the irony inherent in doing something surprising.

c) The best mistake I ever made was……

New Question. Think about turning lemons into lemonade. Can you acknowledge a mistake? Can you learn from it? Do you have the self-awareness to look back and see that something you did wrong actually turned out well?  The ability to admit to a mistake, learn from it, and turn it into a positive demonstrates resilience, maturity, and character. Show ‘em you have it.

Required essay for re-applicants only – Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 word limit)

No trick questions here. How are you a better candidate today than when Kellogg rejected you? Have you addressed weaknesses in your previous application? If you aren’t sure where you fell short, obtain an MBA Application Review.

Responding to the Kellogg application essays will tell the committee a lot about you, your character, and your interests — if you do a good job. It is a solid and comprehensive set of questions.

If you want to start now on your Kellogg application, please keep in mind that Accepted.com is running an Early Bird Special: 10% off all MBA essay consulting and editing.  Consider our Kellogg Consulting and Editing Packages. They too are 10% off thru July 31. Start your applications early, submit first round, and save money.

Northwestern Kellogg 2011 MBA Essay Application Deadlines

Round Due Date Notification
Round 1 Oct. 14, 2010 Dec. 20, 2010
Round 2 Jan. 11, 2011 Mar. 28, 2011
Round 3
Apr. 7, 2011 May 16, 2011

 

Please note that Kellogg has a more complex deadline system than most schools. Please visit their web site for detail

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

Congrats to MIT Sloan on the Launch of Its New EMBA Program!

Every other region of the US has top-tier EMBA programs – but until now New England, even with its abundant corporate resources and Boston’s central role in education and finance, didn’t.  MIT Sloan has just closed that gap with the launch of its Executive MBA program  (http://mitsloan.mit.edu/executivemba/ ) – applications for the 2012 class are being considered through August 15!

M. Jonathan Lehrich, Program Director and Lecturer, MBA for Executives Program, introduced the program to MBA admissions consultants at the annual AIGAC (Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants) conference, which was generously hosted by MIT Sloan and HBS.  MIT Sloan strives to offer a “portfolio of programs” for graduate business education – the regular full-time MBA targeting conventional MBA applicants, the Sloan Fellows program targeting “mid-career executives who are recognized by their companies as being high potential leaders” and want a full-time program (one year), and now the EMBA, which also targets “mid-career executives who are recognized by their companies as being high potential leaders” but who want a part-time program while they continue working.

I don’t want to repeat the basic information, which is readily available on the web site, but rather I’ll highlight some key points that were discussed at the conference beyond the basic facts.

  • The program is designed for people who are employed, who will utilize their learning right away on the job and bring this experiential application back to class.
  • The program seeks people who have 10+ years of experience; exceptions may be possible for comparable level experience but they would likely be quite rare.
  • The structure will make it accessible to people within a short flight distance from Boston; it would be difficult for someone to attend from, say, the West Coast or London.
  • The program will meet the needs of people who are advancing within their current career trajectory, expanding focus to include other areas, or perhaps shifting direction slightly while still maintaining forward momentum on a given path.  It is not for people who want to completely change direction.  Hence, it offers career services resources to help students manage their careers, but it does not offer recruiting.

By the way, on the program’s web site, the FAQ has a great section targeted specifically to sponsors, http://mitsloan.mit.edu/executivemba/faq.php#sponsors .

Keep an eye out – on Thursday I will post tips for answering the MIT Sloan EMBA essay questions!

 By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Success, The Consultants’ Guide to MBA Admission, The EMBA Edge, and author of several articles and the free, email mini-course, “Ace the EMBA.”  Also author of the  NEW online mini-course, Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Choosing the One for You.


Response to “Shortlisting MBA programs”

In Mistakes, Lessons, MBA, and more…, the author, A, reveals his 6 criteria for applying to MBA programs in the aptly named post “Shortlisting schools.” The six are in order of importance:

  1. Intake % of Indian engineers
  2. Teaching Methodology
  3. Recruitment
  4. Culture
  5. Clubs/extra-curricular
  6. Curriculum and specialization.

I boil down A’s 2-5 to three which I rank as follows:

  1. Professional opportunity (roughly his 3 & a little of 6).
  2. Curriculum and school strengths (his 2, 4, 5, & 6).
  3. Personal preferences (A describes these as “tertiary” and for most of you that’s true.)

All the above have to be filtered through the lens of applicant qualifications and competitiveness, and I largely agree with A, except for one significant difference.

His #1 doesn’t appear on my list, and I’ll tell you why.  The schools that seem to favor engineers –whether from India or Indiana — are also going to attract more applications from engineers. Furthermore, if you are attempting to break out of the engineering mold, attending a program that is very much in the engineering world won’t facilitate that change as well as a program with a different approach.

While I can certainly understand applicants wanting to attend a program where they will find others like themselves and feel more at home while thousands of miles away from home, you don’t necessarily need or want to be too much in your comfort zone.

Whether you are a career changer or enhancer, it is your job as an applicant to break out of the label and the mold “Indian IT guy” or “Indian engineer.” Don’t think of yourself first and foremost with the most generic and common labels in the applicant pool. Look at aspects of your experience and background that will differentiate you. My guess is that you will find them in specifics a few layers below the top level “Indian engineer” or “investment banker.” Focus on those details and highlight them in your application.

Finally, your school choice should be guided primarily not by the past or even the present. First and foremost, should be the future. What do you want to do after your MBA? Where do you envision yourself? What career options are worth uprooting yourself, spending all that money, and foregoing two years of income?  (Leaving a job you hate doesn’t qualify, as was repeated over and over by adcom after adcom at the AIGAC conference, which I attended this past week in Boston.)

So “begin with the end in mind” as you plan your MBA future. Season your dreams with the reality of your qualifications as you choose your schools. But don’t let the most common label or denominator dominate your decisions.

For more on shortlisting MBA programs, please see Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Choosing the One for You.

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.