Business school applicants can get so focused on completing and submitting applications that they forget that the ultimate objective is admission. It’s not enough to just answer the questions and click the mouse. Serious applicants understand that success demands much more.
The key is to examine, develop and optimize your underlying candidacy by following these critical steps:
1. Do a self-inventory.
Understanding how competitive you are for b-school admission requires a complete picture of your background — academic, personal and professional. Given all of the experiences, accomplishments and learning of the past 20+ years, few people can do this on their own. One way to jump start it is to get a free evaluation of your candidacy from an admissions expert like The MBA Exchange.
2. Confront your vulnerabilities.
No one enjoys revisiting past failures and disappointments. But if you have a gap, hole or blemish in your history that an admissions committee can see, there’s no choice but to deal with it. A poor grade in Calculus, a soft GMAT quant score, a 3-month hiatus between jobs, the lack of a leadership role — these topics need to be fixed or at least explained.
3. Position your strengths.
Every MBA applicant has something about which he or she is most proud. But deciding exactly what to present and how to convey it to the adcom merits thoughtful planning. Haughtiness is just damaging as excessive humility — maybe worse. So, before filling your application with self-praise, consider how you can align your successes with the priorities and preferences of the admissions officers who will be evaluating you.
4. Mobilize key influencers.
Gaining admission to a top b-school is not just about crafting a strong application. Your recommenders will be painting a picture of you that will speak volumes about your candidacy. Don’t leave that to chance. Make sure you’ve selected trustworthy, credible individuals who truly want you to succeed. A lukewarm rec can kill an otherwise robust application. And recommenders are not the only "influencers." If you don’t know students and alumni from the targeted school, meet them, seek their perspectives, and earn their support. This can take months, so why not start today?
It’s far easier to just complete an application than to build a candidacy. If your priority is "easy" then the best moment of your campaign will happen when you send in your app. However, if you dream about how gratifying it would feel to be accepted by a top business school, then starting your campaign with the 4 steps above is the best way to help make that dream come true.
So, what’s your goal: application or admission?