Free Evaluation, Services, Case Studies, Core Services

Case Study #4 of 7: There’s No Such Thing as a “Perfect” MBA Applicant

October 27 2020 By The MBA Exchange
Select viewing preference

This is the fourth in a series of 7 case studies summarizing the challenges, experiences and success of business school applicants who in recent years have engaged the consulting services of The MBA Exchange. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” MBA candidate, but there are strategic ways to perfect your candidacy.

The featured profiles are:

#1. Low GPA

#2. Low GMAT Score, Qualitative background

#3. Undifferentiated/Technical work history

#4. No international experience

#5. Short work history

#6. Re-applicant

#7. Older applicant

These descriptions confirm that, while most applicants are not “perfect,” through well-planned strategies and diligently executed tactics, admission is achievable at schools that they believe are beyond their reach.

Contact us if your candidacy relates to any of these case studies! We would love to hear from you regarding your business-school aspirations and challenges.

Case Study #4: No international experience

Applicant Profile for “Andrew” (not his real name)

Applicant Profile Table for “Andrew” (not his real name)
AcademicAccounting major at a top 20-ranked university in the US. Graduated with a 3.5 overall GPA
Professional4 years of experience as a consultant in a public accounting firm
Non-work activitiesPartnered with friends to open a bar/restaurant. Serves as a mentor for underprivileged children
Post-MBA goalEntrepreneurship
Target schoolsHarvard, MIT, Columbia, Stanford, UCLA

The MBA Exchange’s Solution

Andrew is concerned that, despite his strong academic, professional and personal profile, admissions committees will view his lack of international living or working experience as a weakness. Andrew did not spend a semester studying abroad in college, nor has his work enabled him to gain international exposure. We reviewed our experience with past clients who had similar profiles and goals and devised the following 4-part strategy to enable Andrew to relate his pursuit of an MBA to his interest in gaining cross-cultural experience.

  • Identify and emphasize the learnings from cross-cultural travel.
  • Reference the diversity on the b-school campus as an attraction.
  • Add a prominent, international component to post-MBA career goal to show that he understands, values and seeks it.
  • Mention in essays the international clubs, summer internships, semester abroad programs and other initiatives at the targeted b-schools that he intends to explore.

Applicant’s Outcome/Results

Following our advice, Andrew dedicated time to reaching out to local alumni and visiting business school campuses to understand the value of each school’s diversity and international exposure – and how this could enable him to achieve his entrepreneurial career goals. We worked diligently with Andrew to help him develop powerful essay content that communicated this rationale for an MBA, integrating it with his professional and extracurricular endeavors. He also focused his optional essays on how he developed personally as a result of his cross-cultural travel experiences. We helped him align his strengths with the selection criteria at his targeted schools and Andrew was ultimately offered admission to Harvard, MIT, Columbia, and UCLA.

In order to capitalize on our experience and advice as Andrew did, contact us for a free, preliminary evaluation up to a year before you apply to business school. Engaging us for a Comprehensive Consultation will allow you time and proven strategies to strengthen your candidacy and then to prepare more compelling applications that maximize your chances for admission.

Client Comments

I knew that my background was lacking any sort of international element or diversity, so I approached The MBA Exchange for help with my applications. Not only did my consultant work with me to position my experiences in a way that demonstrated my exposure to diversity and intent to gain more international perspective through an MBA, but she also helped me develop strong essays that communicated that – as well as my personal and professional accomplishments – to admissions committees. As a result, I’m thrilled to be attending HBS this Fall.