One of the most important, and least understood, elements in a good b-school application is fit. In other words, you must show that you share the values, strengths and philosophy of the school to which you are applying. If you cannot then perhaps you don’t belong there…or so goes the thinking of the AdCom. “Fit” is one of the make-or-break factors in the admissions decision. It is crucial to show your fit, but so many applicants neglect to do this.
Why is fit so important? Well, think about it. Would a wonky type whose ideas are more informed by hard research than by group musings around the water-cooler feel comfortable in a super social, teamwork-oriented school? Would someone who is intensely focused on their work thrive in a program driven by rich community participation? Would a cerebral, non-talkative person do well at a school where oral participation in the classroom makes up 50% of the grade? Probably not. And yet I see this kind of mismatch all the time.
How do you recognize fit? One of the first things I suggest to clients is to thoroughly –and objectively– research the website of every school (you’d be surprised at how many people haven’t done this before drawing up their list of dream schools) and analyze the messages that jump out. Does the school shine a spotlight on student-run initiatives? Then you can be sure that only motivated self-starters will make the cut. Is the school gung ho on teamwork? Then you must be able to show plenty of accomplishments in a team atmosphere in your application. Is every other word on the site “leadership?” Then if you don’t have many examples of leadership, the school may not be the right one for you. Let’s face it: some marriages don’t last as long as business school…and don’t cost as much. In both cases you want to be sure that you are entering a partnership in which both sides can thrive.
Accepted.com editor Tanis Kmetyk will be posting over the next few days while Linda Abraham is on vacation.