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An admission equation for non-traditional MBA candidates

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Joined: 28 Jan 2020
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An admission equation for non-traditional MBA candidates  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jan 2020, 08:07
The majority of MBA students come from a handful of distinct backgrounds: consultants, investment bankers, engineers/lawyers/accountants-in-pursuit-of-a-career-change, NGO professionals. These candidates are the backbone of the student cohort, amassing 90-95% of the student population.

Alongside them, every school admits "unusual" candidates. Those who come from nontraditional backgrounds, have an unusual career progression, or just have a funky story. Examples include students who in their "past lives" were musicians, athletes, or even professional poker players (!). Some candidates do not have an undergraduate degree (myself included).

Speaking with dozens of candidates, consultants, admission officers and others, I became aware that schools are VERY MUCH INTERESTED in candidates with unusual backgrounds, as it diversifies the classes and more often than not brings asymmetrical value to the rest of the students. Also, It's cool, which in today's guerrilla marketing world is not a small thing. For example, Jordi Alexander, pro poker player turned INSEADer turned finance professional, gave poker lessons and lectures to a hundred of his class mates. How cool is that? It is true that some schools, INSEAD being a good example, are more receptive to such candidates than others, but all in all this statement goes across the board.

The framework I built based on hours and hours of conversations is described here as the "admission equation":

Creating value to your fellow classmates and the school:

This is the product side (product being you). Most schools are interested in a certain mix of academic, professional, and 'extra-curricular' (life...) experience. Some schools would also be interested in how 'international' the candidate is.

Candidates who come without an undergrad, or with an unusual background, would need to compensate in other areas: having good scores on their tests, having a strong work experience, have unique life experiences. I will expand on these in following articles, though the best way to 'deep dive' on this subject is by reaching out to me directly via PM or email.

Telling a good story:

Sales is probably the most important, yet the least appreciated, life/career/business skill. To speak in terms of the other person's interests, to be energetic and persuasive, to close a deal - all of these are tremendous tools on your belt, and can take you from another Plain Jane or Average Joe to a real life superhero.

To separate your application from the thousands and thousands of application top MBA are going through, you need to be able to shine a special light. This can be through your essays, through the application videos, through the interviews, through the campus tours, or best - through all of the above!

If you want a few great examples on story telling, make sure to check out storytelling coach / INSEAD professor Neil Bearden (link below).

Meeting the admission requirements:

Make sure you meet the GMAT, TOEFL, essay, etc requirements. If these are not mentioned specifically (and they usually won't be), aim high. Yes, we all know a guy with a GMAT of 640 who got in, but would it not be easier for you to get in with a 700?

If you are a candidate with an unusual background (a 'woBS' candidate), this is even more true for you. Because you are perhaps lacking the business / professional experience 'typical' candidates have, this is the basic way for the school to make sure you can keep up with the academic pace during your MBA. This is especially true for one year programs, where there is literally no time to retake exams or courses.

Not much to add here. Put in the work, make sure to get good grades, this is important. If you need recommendations on resources, couches, courses, etc - reach out to me.

"Secret Sauce":

These are the little tips and tricks that get the candidate a 'tactical' advantage. I am not going to elaborate too much here, as different tricks apply to different schools and candidates. I'll throw a few in every once in a while, and in any case - I will put PLENTY in the book.

I will expand on the above topics as I move forward with the book, so stay tuned. The book follows the unique stories of unique candidates, and through them gives the strategy, tactics, tips, tricks and advice to inspire, drive, and help candidates from unusual backgrounds get into the top MBAs of the world.

If I can help you get into a school, if you have a good story, or if you want to be a part of this crazy journey - reach out to me. Would be happy to help, listen, laugh, publish. Feel free to view our website.

Let's do this!

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An admission equation for non-traditional MBA candidates   [#permalink] 28 Jan 2020, 08:07
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