Three Keys

There are three keys to every successful MBA application.  You need to leverage them as you attempt to put your best foot forward.

Applying to business school is very similar to a sales pitch or a legal case.  You are basically crafting a presentation which will hopefully convince a school to offer one of their coveted seats to you vs. your “competitors.”  While on one hand, it is counterproductive to consider your fellow applicants as competitors, when it comes to making your case, you’d better at least be considering how to differentiate yourself.

The three keys to success in any winning MBA application are: Strengths, Motivation and Fit.

Let’s start with your strengths.  Every school is trying to discover the things about you and your experience which will make you a good classmate.  Every MBA program relies heavily on the collective experience and input of every cohort member to elevate the learning both inside and outside the classroom, so what you bring to the table is vitally important to convey in a compelling way on the front end if you want to stand out.

Remember that your strengths are not just from your professional life.

You may have impressive personal strengths as well, and since b-school is an all-in experience, these personal strengths can position you well to “play in the sandbox” with others in a positive way.  One good way to approach your strengths is to not only ask what it is that you do well, but why you do it well.  Asking why is actually the oil on the gears for all three keys. When you begin to unearth why you are good at something, you are beginning to offer the kind of memorable insight that can earn you a seat.

Motivation is one of the most insightful traits you can demonstrate in the MBA application process.

What motivates you will reveal to the adcoms the kind of leader you are and have the potential to be.  Of course this goes well beyond simply what is motivating you to go back to business school (a standard question in almost every application).  Think about what motivates you as a person---what gets you excited and causes your core passions to bubble up.  Again, you must reveal not only what it is that motivates you but why…

Demonstrating fit with a school can be the make-or-break evidence to being accepted.

Fit is something that could take an entire book to discuss, but in a nutshell, you must convince the admissions committees that the uniqueness of you dovetails with the uniqueness of their program.  It’s not as simple as identifying a school’s expertise in marketing and connecting it with your desire to be a brand manager.  While this kind of professional fit is certainly valid, fit with a school must also be explored personally and culturally.  Every school has a personality, so go visit, meet with students and alumni and try to decipher the nuances which align with your own personality and desires. If you leverage these three keys in your application, you will be well on your way to a positive admissions decision.

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