Searching for Special

What makes you special?  If you’re in the market for an MBA, you’d better begin thinking about this question if you want to get an offer.

Standing out from the crowd is perhaps the most important goal of any MBA applicant.  No matter how great you feel your qualifications are, however, I guarantee you will be humbled on day one of business school when you begin meeting your cohort.  While it’s important to keep your confidence up during the application process, a good, healthy dose of humility can sometimes point you in the right direction for how you can jump off the page with your chosen school.

Humility is an underrated quality in the MBA application process.

Whether you’re Harvard, Stanford, Wharton or even Georgia Tech, nobody likes a pompous applicant.  Of course it’s a fine line between pumping your stock and being grounded, but finding that balance is critical.  One way to pull it off is to be thankful.  When you appear grateful for your opportunities and talk about how things have shaped you, bragging about your achievements takes on a much more palatable air.  Yes, there is a way to waive your trophies and not come across as full of yourself.

But why is it important to avoid appearing self-important?

Because schools don’t like spending time mediating team conflict in their cohorts.  Let’s face it, when you put a bunch of type-A leaders on teams together, everyone wants to lead.  Schools have to sniff out who is special enough in the applicant pool to maybe be the CEO one day, yet humble enough to square off and team up with classmates to get through two years of difficult classes and projects together. 

Make sure you consider what makes you special while you also consider that someone else may possess the same qualities.

This is the real goal of every good MBA application—to understand how your brand of special completely, but also to understand how you can differentiate it from someone who has the same or similar background as you have.  If you simply avoid the pitfall that there’s nobody out there like you, you will ground yourself from the beginning with a healthier perspective on how to position your story as unique without coming across as condescending or naïve.

To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at or contact us via