I’ve found that when clients are evaluating their MBA candidacy in general as well as for specific schools, they often tend to over-emphasize or under-emphasize certain problem factors. Yet a holistic evaluation is an important foundation for your efforts going forward.
How might people overemphasize certain points? I’ve worked with engineers who score, say, 85% on the GMAT quant section and obsess over that (to them) disappointing score, worrying that it undermines their whole application. Usually, such people have a strong quant academic record and also have demonstrated excellent analytic skills (which are related) at work. The 85% is fine in the overall context; what they really should worry about is demonstrating they have business exposure and communication skills… Similarly, one 3.0 GPA isn’t the same as another 3.0 GPA. Were there C’s across the board, or did you earn an F in bebop during a freshman semester? Did the GPA trend up or trend down?
On the other hand, I’ve encountered many otherwise very strong candidates to top programs who mention that being 34 years old might be a problem. They see it as the “one” negative in an otherwise stellar profile, and, they reason, everyone has some weak points. But all weak points aren’t equal. I have to tell them that this one factor could outweigh almost all the positives, and that they will have to present a very distinctive profile – not just exceedingly qualified, but truly unusual and focused – to be competitive at that age.
Identifying weaknesses and their potential impact is important, but it’s not just number of weaknesses or even type; it’s the nuances of how a particular weakness resonates within the overall candidacy. It could be crippling, or it could be surprisingly insignificant.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, who has worked with hundreds of successful MBA applicants in her last ten years with Accepted. She can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and develop a winning MBA admissions strategy.