Niceness can pay big dividends for MBA applicants

Nice job. Nice person. Nice place. Nice weather. Nice shoes. The word “nice” is one that we use and hear every day. So, it’s relatively easy to ignore or disregard the word in common usage. However, if found in a less familiar context, the term “nice” pops out and requires some explanation.

For example, when evaluating MBA applicants, one top-tier business school – Dartmouth Tuck – now considers “niceness” as a criterion for admission. This is not to say that other, more traditional strengths are less important. Tuck continues to seek students who are “smart, accomplished and aware.” However, most observers of the MBA admissions arena would agree that the concept of “niceness” is not historically linked to b-school candidates.

As Tuck’s executive director of MBA admissions explains, “The nice candidate demonstrates — through a pattern of actions, through sustained habits — that they generously invest in the success of others, and that they are committed to elevating outcomes, not just for themselves, but for communities around them.”

We can’t predict if this particular trait will be added to the official admissions scorecard at other business schools. But if you consider what “niceness” entails, it becomes clear that most MBA programs already consider this attribute by some other name. For instance, “niceness” implies having strength in teamwork, effectiveness in leadership, and grounding in ethics. It also conveys approachability, fairness and humility in all dealings. The qualities have always been major points weighed by adcoms when evaluating, comparing and vetting applicants. So, the concept of “niceness” for b-school applicants is not really that revolutionary after all.

The biggest challenge faced by many MBA applicants is how to best demonstrate that they are, well, nice. The core components of an application – resume, transcript, and test scores – don’t relate. However, the subjective elements – recommendations, essays, short answers and interviews – each provide a canvas on which to present evidence of niceness. So, during the process of crafting an application, it’s essential for candidates to keep this attribute in mind and showcase it where and when appropriate.

If you’re a future MBA who finds it challenging to identify and convey examples of your own “niceness,” the advice and guidance of an experienced admissions consultant, like those at The MBA Exchange, can prove invaluable. The admissions consultants at The MBA Exchange are trained and skilled in posing questions, digging beneath the surface, and connecting seemingly unconnected dots that can make an applicant’s story more compelling, distinctive and authentic.

So, have a nice day – and a nice MBA candidacy!