The 5 Most Common MBA Admissions Myths

By - Sep 17, 02:15 AM Comments [0]


Today’s post comes from Manhattan Review, a well-known provider of test prep and MBA Admissions Consulting in Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose for Top Business Schools.

Doesn’t every industry have its urban legends and unfounded myths? The MBA admissions arena is no exception. Several myths are out there causing a great deal of concern for potential MBA applicants. Some are based on erroneous facts, hearsay, even the theories of negative people. Have a look at how we squash these myths as the unfounded beliefs they are, once and for all.

  1. A high GMAT score will get you in.

    Your GMAT score tells the admissions committee only that you can do the work. But make no mistake, your grades and the GMAT are never the sole deciding factors in judging acceptance to business school. The MBA admissions process has undoubtedly evolved. It has become more encompassing and now takes into account work experience, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, and essays. There are other pieces of information that will inevitably round out the overall picture of who you are for the admissions committee.

    Another important tip is to make sure you present those experiences to committee members in a professional and confident manner. Your presence, your extracurricular activities, your ambitions, your passions, and your personality all come into play in the decision-making process. At Manhattan Review we’ve seen applicants with high scores of 750 or more rejected from their target business schools -- even when their GMAT score falls within the top 10% of the schools’ range. After analysis, we believe these applicants were rejected because of a fatal misconception: they were overconfident that their high GMAT score alone would gain them admission.

  2. Admissions committees want a certain 'type'.

    There is no one type of person who attends HBS or Stanford or any the other MBA program! Business schools are looking for more than one-dimensional students. At Manhattan Review we strive to educate our MBA applicants about this restrictive kind of thinking which can place their applications in the admissions circular file. Conversely, you must attempt to defy stereotypes and present those special qualities and traits only you posses so as to set yourself apart from all other applicants. You do not want to be categorized in any way – it’s a definite disadvantage.

  3. You need blue-chip experience to get into a top-tier program.

    This is so false. In fact, a non-blue-chip business background can actually make it easier for you to stand out. We won’t deny that experience at respected and renowned firms will always get attention. However, it can also become a liability if you especially rely on just a firm’s reputation and stature to substantiate your application. When talking with admissions members, it was discovered that the best applicants are singled out according to how they have singularly leveraged their career opportunities or further, created them.

    What’s more, non-traditional business experience is thought to sometimes score a home run for an applicant due to the fact that it stresses the extents to which he or she had to go to make their mark. This is a huge advantage for those without blue-chip experience and furthermore is recognized and applauded by all business schools.

  4. My weaknesses won't be noticed.

    Here’s the question asked all the time: “Should I write an optional essay about my low GMAT, low GPA, or long stint of unemployment? Is it a good idea or does it call excessive and unwanted attention to the weakness? The answer is no. First of all, never assume that the admissions committee won’t notice a weakness. And secondly, doesn’t addressing the particular weakness instead give you more control?

    If you don’t show your explanation in writing, you’re running the risk of putting the committee in a position to have to guess at an explanation. Your best bet is to address the issue head-on by explaining the details in the optional essay that may have caused the weakness to occur. To that end and more to your advantage, those details may have been beyond your area of control.

    In this way, the committee will not have to guess at the reasons behind your low GPA, or anything other weakness you believe you have because you will have filled in the story for them. And that gives you the control.

  5. Some firms believe that MBAs have limited thinking ability.

    This is true to a certain extent. Not all firms are guilty of this belief. The basis for it may lie with 'old thinking', probably fostered by non-MBAs. It’s often been said that MBAs hold on to principals/strategies they learned in business school which are not what works in the real world where theories may have already advanced by the time MBAs are at their career posts. However, this is limited thinking in and of itself.

    In our experience, MBAs are the ones who not only are trained to think beyond the limits but have the know-how and proven ability to do so. In fact, these are the forward-thinking people in the business world today who, at any given time, are the ones expected to push the limits and develop better strategies to get the maximum outcome in any business situation.

Now that you have this myth-busting fresh in your mind, take on the MBA admissions process with confidence and fervor knowing that there are misconceptions flying around that are just that: misconceptions. Go for it and good luck!

For more insights into the MBA application process we recommend that you attend our free interactive MBA Admissions Webinars where you gain lots of useful insight into the MBA Admissions process from Manhattan Review’s director of Admissions Consulting, a former member of Wharton’s admissions board.

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