Full video transcript:
You’re at the beginning of the MBA application process, and it’s pretty overwhelming. The school websites provide lots of info. There are books and forums. Then there are recent and not-so-recent MBAs who all offer input freely on how to get accepted. A lot of it takes time to wade through, and often, the information is contradictory.
You’re uncertain how to proceed, insecure, and the time demands of the application on top of work, family, and life are stressful.
You know you have the talent to do well. You certainly don’t want the application hoop to lead to rejection.
I’ve talked to and worked with many applicants just like you. In fact I’ve lived and breathed MBA admissions for over 20 years. In addition to guiding thousands of successful MBA applicants to acceptance, I’ve interviewed over 300 admissions directors for Accepted’s old chats and now its podcast, Admissions Straight Talk. I’ve also met many times with admissions directors through my work with AIGAC and attendance at its conferences.
Here is feedback from one client – typical of the hundreds of appreciative notes we here at Accepted have received from clients – whose application contained the essentials I’m about to share with you:
Dear Linda and Jennifer,
Thank you so much for your personalized help with every step of my application. I decided to accept [Stanford] GSB’s offer to begin my MBA this year. I am humbled and grateful for how you went the extra mile to advise me.
I’d like to distill the MBA application process down to its somewhat paradoxical and essential 4 elements. Let’s dive in.
1. Show you can do the work.
This is foundational. As Isser Gallogly said on Admissions Straight Talk, it’s a “ticket of entry.” Whether it’s with your undergrad GPA and test score, or through a supplemental transcript, certifications, or demanding work experience, somehow you must convince the adcom that you can handle both the quantitative and communications demands of a top MBA program.
2. Have an achievable but ambitious goal that requires an MBA from the program you are applying to.
Almost all programs, HBS is an exception, will want to see this somewhere in your application. Why? They want to know you are realistic and that they can help you achieve your goal. They want you to graduate as a happy and employed alum. For your own sake as well as to enhance your chances of acceptance, have professional direction for at least your first MBA job. Know what function you would ideally want to fill and in which industry you want to work.
3. Demonstrate you meet the school’s criteria and that you share its values and mission.
Some schools, like HBS, Stanford, and Booth explicitly state what they are looking for. Your application as a whole must show that you meet those criteria. Others provide that information a little less explicitly but through info sessions, online webinars and chats, and the profiles of their admitted students you can learn it. It’s your job to understand the values and criteria and throughout your application show that you share the values and meet the criteria.
4. Ability to contribute.
And here’s the paradox. The first 3 elements are all about fitting in. This one is about standing out and distinctiveness. For those of you from overrepresented groups, this is superficially the most difficult element.
But there are so many different ways to show that you have a distinctive background, set of experiences, or perspective to contribute to your target school’s community. To stand out, you don’t have to climb Mt. Everest, find the cure for cancer, or swim the English Channel. You do need to show that you have something distinctive to add to your class. You need:
A) something distinctive to discuss;
B) a history of contribution in the past; and
C) an effective presentation of that special something and your past contributions.
A and B require substance and C requires you to present your individuality compellingly with specifics, examples, and anecdotes through your application.
If you’re thinking, “Everything that she says sounds so easy and obvious, but it’s really difficult to do. How can I do that?” I hear you. It’s definitely easier to say than to do, so I have additional help for you:
1. Go to accepted.com/mbaaz.
2. Download MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips.
3. Jump right through that application hoop to:
• Acceptance at a great school
• Fantastic MBA experience
• Your dream career
Do you want the individualized help that Michael (above) got and that thousands of others have received that helped them get accepted? Do you need guidance and assurance that your essays cover the 4 essentials discussed above? Check out our MBA Application Packages for more information on how we can help you achieve your MBA dreams.
• Fitting In & Standing Out: The Paradox at the Heart of Admissions, a free guide
• Three MBA Application Poisons and Their Antidotes, a short video
• 3 Tips for Highlighting Your Strengths in Your Application Essays