Lesson 5 – Understand and optimize the admissions process

So far, we’ve talked about understanding the purpose of the MBA, picking the right format, using rankings appropriately, and how to make a good impression during the recruiting process. Now, it’s time to create an application that will impress the admissions committee.

Chapter 5 opens with a story about “Jane”—an applicant to our MBA program a few years ago. Jane had great grades and a solid GMAT score, but had a hard time communicating soft skills (leadership, communication, selflessness) on her application and during her interview. Using Jane’s application as an example, I walk readers through the eight questions I ask—and why they are so important—each time I review an application or conduct an interview. These include:

  1. Will the applicant be successful academically?
  2. Are the applicant’s postgraduation goals clearly defined and in alignment with our strengths?
  3. Can the applicant communicate effectively?
  4. Does the applicant demonstrate leadership potential?
  5. Does the applicant’s conduct indicate ethics and a sense of honor?
  6. Will the applicant be a good team member? Would I want to be on a team with him or her?
  7. Will the applicant be employable by the end of the program?
  8. Does the applicant specifically want to attend our program? Will they stay involved after graduation?

Unfortunately for Jane, the answers to most of these questions were not good, despite her stellar grades and test scores. The admissions committee debated her application for a long time, but—in the end—we offered her spot in the class to applicants with higher emotional intelligence, more leadership potential, and better communication skills.

After reading this chapter, I hope you’ll have greater insight into how I evaluate applications, where I look for answers to my questions and how you can optimize your application to any program. Next week, we’ll cover another critical topic – negotiating (effectively) for scholarships.

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