MBA Applications – Simple, Surprise & Significant

Last week, we forwarded a post about 3 tips for building the perfect college application, from a CEO who went to Harvard for free. We called it the three (3) S’s of applications. Here is my quick take on the approach which I shared while coaching a 24-year old MBA applicant.

Be Simple. Is where you give schools what they want while being yourself. This involves check boxes and translation. You need to check the boxes or requirements of MBA schools. And, translate your attributes into the language they use to define their school. Don’t get too caught up in this activity. Get in, get out; do not linger nor dwell. Sometimes you can thread these themes throughout your application (i.e., as long as you feel it maps to a strength, or strengths, you have.)

Surprise Them. These are your X factors. Where you let bschools know what extras they are getting from you as an applicant. It might be unexpected but it has to be honest about you, relevant to today and connected to their school. Don’t just be unexpected for the sake of the exercise. Standing out is good to a degree but always be who you really are or want to become.

Show Significance. This is where you demonstrate your strengths. The applicant I was coaching has always felt one of her strengths is integrated reasoning. The following dialogue is verbatim on how I advised her. I asked her, “What did you call this?” Then said, “I think you mentioned your strength was ‘integrated reasoning’. How you are good at synthesizing…taking people’s problems and turning those into solutions for an organization. Be careful using terms like ‘integrated reasoning’ unless you clearly define it. You can do this by giving an example or telling a quick story. And, if you can, share results to demonstrate value. As with other parts of your app connect yourself (a.k.a., strengths, skills you want to develop, x factor attributes, etc.) back to their school.”

In closing, I conveyed the following which should also pertain to you and your applications: “Best wishes. You will do well! And, don’t forget applications are just one part of admissions. It is likely that you will also get some type of an interview.”

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