“Top 10 admissions books read by Stanford MBAs” – all that omnipotence for just $31.56!

A recent posting on Twitter announced a list of “10 best-selling books” that a group of current Stanford business school students named as being essential to their success. The theory sounds simply wonderful and wonderfully simple: Read some books. Apply to the elite b-schools. Get admitted.

However, the logic is flawed for at least these 5 reasons:

1. Strategies and tactics for admission to Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, etc. need to be customized and personalized – built from the inside out — to capture the true candidacy. Serious applicants must craft and present a candidacy that is unique to them AND that resonates with the b-school admissions committee. Cookie cutters are for, well, making cookies.

2. Admitted students are smart and accomplished, but not admissions experts. Those who have been admitted to highly selective MBA programs may believe they know why and how they gained admission, but it’s more likely to be speculation. It takes a lot of data points over several years to understand what moves an admissions committee to say yes to one applicant and no to another whose stats may be even stronger.

3. Psssst! Once a secret is published and sold in the open market to all comers, it’s no longer a secret. Regardless of how insightful they may be, the most popular books become less valuable each day with each copy that’s sold. Why? The more applicants who use the same canned strategies and tactics, the less effective they become. Lemmings of the world, unite. And admissions officers are literate, too! Once they read these same books at the beach this summer, it’s “game over.” They can spot an applicant who is “doing it by the book” a mile away.

4. There’s no competitive advantage for applicants who rely on books. How much does it cost to purchase all 10 titles? We did the math: it’s just $31.56 at Amazon.com. Even the most expensive title was only $9.89. And three of them were priced at an astounding 1 cent each! Okay, even adding shipping charges won’t bring the total to more than $50. That’s not enough of a hurdle to keep thousands of other applicants from consuming these books and producing applications that can’t help but look alike. Is that really a bargain? We don’t think so.

5. The professional admissions consultants who write and promote such books do a disservice to not just readers but also to the applicants who have hired them for individual counsel. By publishing the same strategies and same tactics to the masses, these advisors dilute the value and impact for those who paid them far more than $31.56. Why would anyone hire a consultant who just gave away his or her advice to thousands of other applicants seeking the same seat at the same schools in the same round?

So, if you’re an MBA applicant who believes that the ”wisdom, secrets and inside tips” promised by authors will produce your admissions success, then by all means order and consume these books. But for those future MBAs who understand that customized, personalized and proven 1-on-1 guidance can help them discover, capture and present their true and best candidacy, we invite you to consider working with The MBA Exchange. (Heck, we’ll even buy you the admissions book of your choice from the top-10 list as a welcome gift if you engage our consulting services! ) Start today with a free, personalized evaluation of your candidacy at www.mbaexchange.com.