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Keep It Real: Authenticity is Key to MBA Admission

March 12 2014 By The MBA Exchange
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Every admissions committee wants and expects applicants to convey “authenticity.” Adcoms strive to evaluate prospective students on their true merits and potential, not fabrications or exaggerations that distort the underlying candidacy. Likewise, most applicants want to be considered for their actual achievements, experiences and aspirations.

However, given the highly competitive nature of MBA admissions, there can be a temptation for some applicants to go a step too far in presenting themselves to b-schools. Such individuals believe that their candidacies are “too common” or “unexciting,” and therefore they may stretch the truth or try to be perceived as more accomplished or appealing than they really are.

If and when this temptation arises, The MBA Exchange urges you to take a step back and consider the risks of being less than authentic. Having analyzed thousands of applications, MBA admissions professionals know inaccuracy and exaggeration when they see it. This is an instant turnoff that is likely to result in rejection even if the rest of the application is strong. So, we urge applicants to stay on the high road at all times.

The good news is that even the most traditional, conventional candidacy can succeed with authenticity that resonates with the adcom. B-schools don’t require “perfect” candidates, but they do expect real ones. Based on the analysis and planning that we do with future MBAs during our Comprehensive Consultation at The MBA Exchange, here are three key aspects to being authentic that business school applicants should keep in mind.

Your MBA applications should be:

1. Factual
Authenticity starts with honesty. Be sure that the credentials, claims and descriptions included in your application are accurate. Don’t state anything that you could not document or verify if asked to do so. In fact, during the background verification process that takes place prior to matriculation, you may be asked to do so.

2. Emotional
Authenticity is conveyed through feelings. When you state that you’re passionate about a given topic, that you regret a past mistake, or that you are intensely proud of a certain achievement, mean it! Even if you happen to fool the adcom somehow in the application, this will catch up to you during the interview when you’re telling your story face-to-face.

3. Strategic
Authenticity is different than naiveté. Be thoughtful in deciding which aspects of your past, present and future you want to convey in your application. Volunteering irrelevant information that puts your candidacy in a bad light is not helpful. Dwelling on a failure or setback can be counterproductive. While being authentic, also remember that you are competing against others with equal or stronger credentials.

If you are interested in applying to a top business school, The MBA Exchange invites you to request a free evaluation of your candidacy.