Don’t make these mistakes when applying to b-school:
1. Applying without a clear idea of what you want to do after you earn the degree.
Having clear career goals is a MUST for successful MBA applicants. You may think you can cover up this lack of direction in your application, but the adcom are trained to see who has focused goals and who does not. Business schools are looking for applicants who will both succeed as students and as businesspeople in the post-MBA career world. If you don’t show direction early on, then there’s a chance you’ll flounder through b-school and won’t smoothly transition back into the workforce. YOU won’t get the most out of your MBA experience, and nor will the school. It’s a lose-lose for everyone.
Instead, solidify (with some degree of flexibility) what you want to do post-degree so that you present yourself as a strong, focused candidate in your applications. Remember, you’ll personally benefit from this research and direction, in addition to it boosting your chances of admission.
2. Writing what you think the admissions committee wants to know as opposed to what you want them to know.
You THINK that by writing what the adcom wants to hear, that your essay will be creative – ingenious even. But what ends up happening, is that everyone thinks the committee wants to hear the same thing and they end up writing something UN-original in order to fit those imagined specifications. Instead, look deep into yourself and think about what you truly would like to share with them – that’s the ONLY way that your final product will be authentically original, and the only way that you’ll really impress the adcom.
3. Applying exclusively to schools based on the rankings and without any sense of your own competitiveness.
If all applicants made this mistake, then Harvard, Stanford, and other top five programs would be even more selective than they are and VERY few people would ever gain admission. Yes, HBS is good for some people, and Stanford is good for others, but they’re certainly not the best schools for everyone. If there’s no possible chance that you’ll get accepted to a top five, top ten, or top fifty program, then start your quest by crossing those off your list. Save yourself the heartbreak of rejection and the costs and setback of reapplication by choosing reasonable programs to apply to.
That being said, so long as you apply to at least one safety and a few on-pars that you’d be thrilled to attend, then it certainly can’t hurt to try for a few reasonable reaches.