The greatest mistake applicants to business schools make is that their applications lack a compelling brand. Most applicants pay way too much attention trying to “game” the system and figure out what the Admissions Boards want to hear instead of taking a
step back to assess their own stories and to present them in an
authentic, powerful way.
Developing one’s personal brand requires significant introspection, something that is a make or breaks in the application process. Also, being extremely smart, with an 800 GMAT score and a near-perfect GPA, isn’t enough to guarantee admission to your dream business school. The applicant pool is teeming with candidates with precisely the same academic backgrounds.
Being brainy can be a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite in the application process. Conversely, there are enough instances of successful candidates with academic data that are below the school’s admission range. An interesting and compelling brand can land candidates into their dream schools, even when their academic numbers are not exceptional. Nonetheless, this is not an excuse to ignore the academic
components of the application.
The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets will examine how applicants can use branding techniques to achieve admission success. I will begin by discussing why a candidate would even consider an MBA in the first place. I will also discuss the three main admissions criteria that candidates are evaluated on (academic ability, leadership track record, and uniqueness) and will provide specific insights on how to address each of them. I will provide anecdotes to convey the nuanced differences that lead to successful brand positioning. I will also devote a chapter to each of the application components (essays, resumes, recommendations, and interviews). Wherever applicable, I will present a case to illustrate how an applicant navigated the application process. The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets will also examine the common admissions mistakes candidates make as well as offer practical tips to help you avoid making the same application errors. I’ll examine admissions outcomes and how to effectively manage each of them.
I often hear applicants raise the issue of financing the MBA, so I have also devoted a chapter to discussing financing resources and how to go about planning to fund the business education. I have also interviewed alumni of top business schools as well as a GMAT test provider and former Admissions Board member to present additional insights to help you navigate the challenging admissions terrain.
The idea of individuals as personal brands is a relatively new way of thinking made popular by personal brand guru Tom Peters. Personal branding is based on tried-and-true principles of traditional marketing. Robin Fisher Roffer, author of Make a Name for Yourself, describes the power of personal branding when she says, “Branding makes you an active partner in fulfilling your destiny in business and life.”
I have written The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets not only to help candidates gain admission to top business schools but also to help them develop a clearer sense of “who they are” and “what matters to them”—their brand. Books that have been the most meaningful to me often have every other page marked up, highlighted, or overrun with a lot of notes. I encourage you to write down your thoughts as you read this book. It should be a good reference even after you have read it once, and you should go back and revisit sections that are relevant when you begin working on your application.
While I don’t expect that this book will answer every single
question you have about the application process, I anticipate
that it will answer the majority of the burning ones. I have
written this book for anyone who is seriously considering an
MBA and wants to maximize his or her chance of gaining
admission to a top business school. I have focused the examples
primarily on top business schools that are based in the United
States. Many of the lessons learned here can be applied to any
business school, however. This book will give you an inside
perspective of how the nation’s top MBA Admissions Boards
think and how they evaluate candidates.
The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets is also designed to
empower you to reach for your dreams and to begin to take the
necessary steps to live a passion-filled life. It is more than simply
getting into the school of your dreams. It is about finding fulfill-
ment in your life, tapping into what matters most to you, and
charting a plan to achieve those things that bring you meaning.
I believe that every individual has a God-given set of talents
and passion and when you pursue your dream, you have no
choice but to succeed. I ultimately believe that if you spend
most of your time doing what you truly enjoy, you will become
brilliant at it and will achieve success in other areas of your life.
Getting into your dream MBA program is one of the steps
along the journey of living a passion-driven life. I wish you great
success along the way.