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Achieving MBA admission is more about “Why” than “What and How”

January 7 2012 By The MBA Exchange
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Fact: Most applicants to top business schools are qualified for admission. Their GPA and GMAT scores fall within the “middle 80%” range. The resume, recommendations and essays say wonderful things about what the applicant has accomplished. They present a credible, attainable post-MBA goal.

Those seeking admission to b-school come from a variety of interesting backgrounds – personal, academic and professional. In framing their candidacy, most go into great detail in describing what they’ve done in school, on the job and in the community. And most share facts about how they’ve reached this point in their careers, overcoming various challenges and seizing particular opportunities to achieve results. The apps are completed and submitted. Some individuals are admitted, most are rejected, but none ever learn exactly why that was the result of their campaign.

So, what is the “X” factor that culls the herd? What aspect of the candidacy enables the admissions committee to say yes to one person and no to another whose credentials may be even stronger?

A wonderful 18-minute TED presentation by author Simon Sinek, as well as our 15 years of business school admissions success, prompts us to believe that the most significant difference among MBA applicants is not “what” they’ve achieved, or “how” they’ve accomplished it. Rather the biggest point of difference is “why” they have done what they’ve done. Revealing the inspiration, vision, raison d’etre behind their past actions and future plans is the best way to differentiate and elevate a business school candidacy.

Ironically, many individuals don’t even try to address this topic in making their case for admission. Perhaps they don’t know or have never thought about “why.” Maybe they don’t feel that the admissions committee really cares about or would understand their motivation. Or is it just too personal and private of an area to communicate to a faceless admissions committee?

Regardless of why you, as an applicant, might be reluctant to share the “why” behind your candidacy, if you’re serious about gaining admission, it’s a must. Arguably, the best way to start is by focusing on the “why” behind your post-MBA goals. Ask, and answer, the question: Why do I want to do something different from what I doing now? Not only will this exercise help make your essay about career objectives more compelling, it will also open the door to examining “why” you chose the path that has brought you to this point.

At The MBA Exchange, we’ve made this discovery a key component of our Comprehensive Consultation. Guiding, pushing, pulling and encouraging our clients to understand and articulate the “why” behind their past, present and future has helped them to more effectively present their unique candidacies and thus maximize their chances for admission. We invite you to start by telling us about your “what and how” through a free evaluation of your candidacy. Then, as your resource and partner, we can help you explore and identify the all-important “why.”