Guest Posts, Free Evaluation, MBA Preparation

How a “Diversity” Applicant Can Rock the B-school App

February 24 2016 By The MBA Exchange
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This guest post is by Seth Gilmore, Tuck MBA and Senior Admissions Consultant at The MBA Exchange

Here’s a confession for you: On my third day of Capital Markets class, during Tuck’s notoriously soul-crushing fall term, I had just one question on my mind as the rest of the lecture sailed directly over my head: “What exactly is a capital market?!”

They say that those of us who arrive clueless relative to the scores of econ and finance majors, consultants, bankers, and CPAs who make up the bulk of our class, learn more in business school than anyone else does, because we have the most to learn. And it’s true — we get more bang for our buck. I’m here to tell you, though, it’s no picnic. I’ll save my war stories and some tips for business school survival for another blog post, but for now I want to tell you what people like me need to do to gain admission to a top-10 business school.

The thing is, top-10s love “diversity” candidates like me (and probably like you, if you’ve read this far). I was a philosophy major undergrad and never took a single econ or business course — don’t judge, I wanted to be a playwright! I spent most of my pre-Tuck years working in the newsroom of The New York Times, and by the time of my application I knew a hell of a lot more about Hurricane Katrina, the Iowa caucuses and musical theater than I did about cost accounting (actually, that’s still true).

But here’s why they love us: Can you imagine being locked in a room with 60 bankers and consultants for two years? Trust me, it would make your head explode. Those of us with varied backgrounds, who march to a different drummer, add color to the class. We think different, we learn different, and we often look different, too. As a result, in the classes that we tend to excel in (I owned Prof. Argenti’s “Analysis for General Managers”) we also make the discussions way, way more interesting. We provide a valuable service to all the quant jocks we’re surrounded by, all of whom already know… what a capital market is.

So it’s good to be wanted, right? But here’s the rub: They only want a few of us. And they expect the few of us they do let in to be able to run with the bulls, as it were. You’ve got to be able to hold your own in business school, even while surrounded by people with far more relevant training and experience than you have. You don’t have to be at the top of the class, but you can’t fall too far behind it either.

So how do business schools determine whether they think you’ll be able to keep up? Well, your GPA and GMAT score, of course, but I can’t help you with those. What I can help you with, though, is equally important, especially for someone in your shoes — your application essays. It is in these essays that you must demonstrate a) your ability to speak the language of business, and b) your commitment to the fundamental concepts that business schools value the most highly as they evaluate applicants.

Now, I’m a pretty good writer. Working in a newsroom with 25 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists where everyone literally is a critic, tends to improve your writing. But while I could certainly string a few sentences together, it took working with my fantastic, extremely patient admissions consultant to learn how I could tell my story in a way that business schools would understand and truly appreciate. Today, as an admissions consultant myself, I always tell my clients that their first real business school experience is working with me. I will help you figure out how to fit your square peg into the b-school application’s round hole.

You’re going to feel a lot like that peg for your first year of b-school, anyway, but in working with someone like me, or any of The MBA Exchange’s top flight consultants, you’ll give yourself a huge head start and a significantly improved chance of getting into the school of your dreams. So, why not start today with a free, expert analysis of your diverse candidacy?