Understanding the Gatekeepers for MBA Admissions

By - Jul 18, 12:00 PM Comments [0]

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When it comes to applying to business school, far too many
people try to treat the admissions process as a sort of checklist. Their
thought process goes: “If I have a certain
score on the GMAT
, or a certain set of companies or positions on my resume,
or people of a certain rank writing me recommendation letters, then I’m sure to
get into business school.”

The problem with this style of thinking is that it assumes
admissions committees – for all the MBA programs throughout the country –
operate in the same way, with the same goals and admissions criteria. These
applicants tend to view the adcom as functioning like a computer algorithm:
“Check these boxes, and you’ll be passed on to an interview!”

In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. And
unfortunately, MBA applicants who treat the adcom as a monolith are in for
serious disappointment. Admissions committees look for candidates who will be a
net benefit to their school, which is why so much attention is paid to cohort
in defining classes.

If you want to be successfully admitted to b-school, you
have to move beyond your assumptions about who the adcom is looking for and
focus on presenting yourself in the best possible light. You need to do the
research about your target schools, take the time to understand
your personal brand
, and craft a compelling MBA application that shows the
adcom why you’ll be a perfect fit for their school.

Do the research

If you want to be admitted to business school, you have to
get specific. The gatekeepers at top MBA programs don’t need to be convinced
about why you would benefit from an MBA. They want to know how your career
would benefit from getting an MBA at their school.

Far too often, admissions committees receive applications
that read as though they could apply to pretty much any MBA program. It becomes
instantly clear that the applicant hasn’t done any research.

Business schools are not interchangeable – especially
at the elite level. A successful MBA application absolutely has to be tailored
for the specific program where you want to apply.

So, how do you show the adcom that you’re invested in their
school in particular? Show them that you have done the research. The adcom
wants to know which classes you’re excited to take, which professors you want
to work with, which electives will help you propel your career forward.

Admissions boards put out a ton of information to help
prospective students gain familiarity with their school and program. In
addition to blogs by students, alumni, and adcom staff, there are webinars,
brochures, and on- and off-campus visits available to prospective students.

Take advantage of this wealth of information. It’s how the
admissions committee lets you know what matters for their brand, and what
they’re looking for in an ideal
candidate
. Applicants who can show that they’ve truly done the research and
understand why they’re a great fit for the school’s brand are much more likely
to be successful.

Understand your personal
brand

When it comes to getting admitted to b-school, understanding
your own brand is as important as understanding the school’s brand.

Your brand should should allow you to present yourself in
authentic way – a way that reflects your individual strengths and career path,
and shows how you will use your time in business school as a springboard toward
further success.

Personal branding
is never about lying or trying to create a false impression of who you are.
It’s about understanding yourself and your audience.

For example, on the game show The Price is Right,
contestants are selected at “random” to come down from the audience onto the
stage to participate in the game. But of course, the selection isn’t really
random – contestants are selected because of signs they hold up in the crowd,
because of outfits they wear, because of how loudly their section of the
audience is cheering.

There’s a system to getting called up on stage to
participate in The Price is Right, and there are a lot of people who spend time
learning to master the system.

The MBA application process works along similar lines. Of
course, the criteria for selection is very different – GPA and GMAT scores and
essay responses instead of cheering and fun costumes – but overall, the theme
is the same: understand what the gatekeeper is looking for, and you’ll be a
whole lot more successful.

Craft a compelling
application

Once you’ve put in the time to understand your own brand and
what your target schools are looking for in an ideal candidate, all that’s left
is putting together the application itself.

If you’d like support taking the final step toward getting
admitted to business school, EXPARTUS can help. Our experienced admissions
consultants have worked with hundreds of applicants, helping them refine their
personal brand and create powerful MBA applications that have gotten them
admitted to some of the world’s most prestigious business schools.

To learn more about how working with EXPARTUS can help you
become the clear choice for admission, get in touch today.

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