Standing Out in Round 2: The Importance of Strategic Content

By - Oct 22, 11:45 AM Comments [0]

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Standing Out in Round 2: The Importance of Strategic Content

There are few times when strategic content is more important than in Round 2. During Round 1 admissions, the admissions committee has already begun to mold the shape of its next entering class. The admissions committee has admitted a certain number of women, healthcare specialists, engineers, accountants, private equity professionals, consultants, bankers, etc. By submitting a Round 2 application, you are asking the admissions committee to integrate you into that pre-existing mix. Because of this, you need to demonstrate that you are a standout applicant. That is, you need to persuade the admissions committee that you can add some uniqueness and additional value to the class that has already begun to take shape.

A key first step is to ensure you distinguish yourself through what you say in your essays. How will your unique experiences and ambitions strengthen the current MBA class and program? What important skills and qualities will you share with your MBA peers? How are you different from the typical candidate of your profile who is also applying or has already applied successfully? It is very important that you address questions like these. Equally important, how have you shown already that you can bring excellence to an environment and impact that environment positively? You should highlight the “proof” that you will be a great student in your essays. All of this forms part of what we at MBA refer to as “strategic content”.

Typically, when we review the applications of candidates who applied on their own and received poor outcomes, we see that they could have improved their applications dramatically with much better strategic content. For example, if an American spent a year working in Eastern Europe for a Fortune company forging a first-in-industry presence there, but the candidate failed to elaborate on this experience in their essays, most likely they missed a huge opportunity to showcase an experience that would have made them highly attractive in admissions. It is your job to prove to the admissions committee that you will be an asset to their class and that you bring valuable experiences to the table.

You can input strategic content into your application through several best practices: in addition to excellently written essays, you should present a great blend of achievements and interests in the application form, resume and recommendations. Avoid appearing as a one-dimensional candidate. If the school has already admitted 35 IT-focused professionals working at entrepreneurship ventures and it only intends to admit 50 such candidates total, to maximize your odds of admissions success, you should try to appear very unique. You don’t want to present yourself as a candidate who is wholly interchangeable with a candidate of a similar background. The committee should read your essays, resume, application form and recommendations, and come to the conclusion that you are a candidate who can add flavor to the class.

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Best wishes,

Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA

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