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Should I Rely on Friends for MBA Admissions Advice?

November 23 2012 By The MBA Exchange
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You have friends who have applied to business school. And you have friends currently in business school or who are recent grads. They all have strong opinions what it takes gain admission. Sounds like a real goldmine, right? Actually, this could be more of a landmine if you rely on them as the primary source of guidance for your admissions campaign.

Despite their good intentions, relying on friends, friends of friends, and acquaintances is not a strategy for success. We have identified three critical reasons why it is more prudent to seek the guidance of a professional counselor than the well-meaning advice of your buds:

1. The “If it worked for my friend, it will work for me” myth

The trouble with this common assumption by applicants is that every candidacy is different. Unless a story, an angle, a lesson learned, or an experience described complements the other components of your application, re-purposed content shared by someone else will not work for you. Well-meaning friends draw from their own experience in advising you. But their background does not reflect nearly enough “data points” to make their approach right for you.

2. When you mix too many ingredients you get a mess, not a “cake”

So, maybe your admissions strategy is to ask a long list of friends for advice. The more the merrier, right? But “application by aggregation” is very risky. Just because several ideas sound good does not mean that combining them will produce the optimal final product for you. A challenge that MBA hopefuls face is preparing an application that is a cohesive whole rather than just a collection of disconnected stories. Jamming together “borrowed” ideas only confuses the reader on the other end.

3. Your friends’ loyalty and positive bias can hurt you

Friends know you well. And they like you — perhaps too much. Thus your limitations and vulnerabilities, from an MBA admissions standpoint, are diminished or even ignored by those who are drawn to you based on your positive qualities. In most friendships, maintaining objectivity is difficult. In the eyes of a buddy, you shine. However, one of the essential steps in a successful admissions campaign is the early, accurate identification of weaknesses and the implementation of proven strategies to mitigate them. Unfortunately, the people closest to you are often the most poorly equipped to handle that vital task.

So, if I can’t rely on friends for admissions advice, what do I do?

A professional admissions consultant understands the priorities and preferences of MBA admissions committees and can help you sort through the strong, the weak and neutral elements of your background. You’ll get honest, objective, and focused feedback and guidance drawn from years of admissions success. To learn how you might benefit from the support of The MBA Exchange, please visit us at www.mbaexchange.com.

And tell your caring friends that they’ll be the very first to hear the good news once you achieve your b-school admissions goals!