These are the most important things to consider when applying to an MBA program. If you do nothing else, focus on these twelve things:
1. Show self-knowledge. If you know who you are, where you’re going, and why it requires an MBA, you’re more than halfway to getting in.
2. Show past success. Admissions committees have to rely on your past successes and referees, as a shorthand indicator of your future success.
3. Show leadership experience and aptitude. Leadership is the ability to motivate and coordinate others to achieve a common goal. It is the key management skill and the key to management success.
4. Prove it with evidence. You think you’re great, and you surely are. But what counts is the evidence. The strongest evidence is concrete: promotions, awards etc, but stories and anecdotes will do the trick too.
5. Position yourself away from competitive categories. Look for ways to separate yourself from the herd.
6. Have clear, interesting, ambitious goals that fit with your past record and require an MBA.
7. Focus on telling your own story and don’t try to give them what you think they want to hear. If you get your profile right you can get in anywhere.
8. Don’t praise the school. They are fully aware of their value and their charms. What they want to know is why you are valuable and how you will add value to them.
9. Don’t try to be too competent. Success is good. Perfect is highly dubious. If you are too good, not only is it suspicious, but you leave them no role to add to your skills and build your profile.
10. Be personal. Give the admissions committee a real insight into your character, passion, personality and self-understanding.
11. Be unique. If what you say could be said by the next applicant or the one after that, it’s generic. If what you say could only be have been said by you, it’s unique.
12. Be likeable. People always choose people they like as colleagues and co-workers and the admissions committee is no different.
Avi Gordon, MBA, is Director of the MBA Admissions Studio (http://www.mbastudio.net), a specialist admissions coaching and essay editing practice for MBA and executive MBA applicants. He is the author of MBA Admissions Strategy: From Profile Building to Essay Writing published by McGraw Hill/ Open University Press. He has been the resident expert on MBA admissions essay with The World MBA Tour. He writes and consults in various aspects of business coaching and communication strategy.
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