‘Tis the season...don’t panic, it’s not Christmas yet. We mean fall — the time the leaves start to change, Starbucks releases their over-hyped Pumpkin Spice Latte, you pull out your favorite too tight sweater...and round one application deadlines pass in batches.
Yep, it’s application season y’all. As impending deadlines loom, candidates scramble to finish their applications in time. This is also the season when our admissions team receives tons of panicked phone calls from applicants who want to make sure their application is perfect.
While getting accepted is a process and involves assessments on many levels coupled with a bit of good fortune, there are a few little things you can do now to give yourself the best shot of getting in. A great story and narrative matters, but so do the little details. We asked the coaches with our admissions coaching partner, Admit Advantage, to share the advice they’re most frequently giving to their clients. Here’s what they said.
Most Frequently Given MBA Application Advice From Admissions Consultants
Review your transcripts as early as possible. Remember that B- that you protested to get the B you actually earned? Well, finding out that it was never changed right when you’re about to submit your application can be a little bit frustrating. Make sure that your transcript is correct as soon as possible so that you have the time to clean it up — or write that optional essay.
— Saundra, MIT & HBS
Reach out to your recommenders to make sure they are on time and that their message fits with yours. If you knew how many calls we field a year from a teary applicant who is panicking because their recommender forgot to send in their application, you would be in tears too. Most importantly, make sure your recommender hasn’t gone rogue in what they actually wrote about you by checking in to tell them what you want included and to ensure they did it.
— Jay, Tufts & Dartmouth (Tuck)
Pass your application to someone close to you and make sure it’s telling your story. Ever look at a picture of yourself and not recognize who it is because the camera adds 10 pounds? You can get away with it in photos, but not in your applications. Give it to a friend or family member and ask them if it represents you well.
— Kofi, Harvard & Wharton
Look at how you describe why you are applying to a school and what you love about it and make sure that maps to the characteristics the school mentions about itself. While you may be applying to a variety of programs with different characteristics, you can’t afford to confuse them. The fastest way to get denied from MIT Sloan? Tell them you love being in a ‘touchy-feely’ culture that doesn’t place an emphasis on quantitative data.
— Rebecca, Knox College & Yale SOM
Ensure you highlighted what you’re going to bring to the school as opposed to everything you’re taking from it. The school knows what they offer already. What they don’t know is what you offer. Make sure you’re highlighting what you are going to offer your classmates from an academic, personal, and professional perspective.
— Joe, Stanford & Wharton
If you have visited the school, make sure that visit is reflected in your application. Schools manage yield: the ratio of who is attending versus who was accepted. It’s important to them. The best way to convey that you are serious is to visit. So, if you have, be sure to demonstrate it in your application — it also underscores your passion for the program.
— March, Rochester & HBS
Make sure your essays, letters of recommendations, non-essay data portion, and resume are all consistent, but also different enough that they’re not redundant. Make sure that your various application pieces fit together like fingers on a hand. They should be cohesive without being repetitive. Don’t write an essay describing yourself as super social when your recommendations portray you as an academic, hermit-type. Consistency is key.
— Liz, Harvard & HBS
Try to work on a weakness as opposed to just acknowledging one. If you know that you have a weakness, it’s not enough to just write about it and put it to bed. If you have time, the ultimate goal is to work to try to improve it or fix it. So, if you’re a year or so away from applying and you have a weak GPA, you should consider taking a class or two to ‘improve it’ of sorts.
— Eric, Brown & Wharton
Don’t forget that one of the best things you can do to get into business school is to excel in your job. Excelling in your career is a good proxy for business schools to determine if you will…excel in your career! It’s not just a GPA + GMAT (or GRE) equation. The best way to showcase that you will go on to great professional success after business school is to have great professional success prior to applying.
— Leslie, UCLA & Wharton
Check your application to make sure you’re showing and telling. Remember that kindergarten activity, “Show and Tell”? Well you’re going back to school. But, this time instead of referring to a game, ‘S&T’ refers to demonstrating your traits like “being innovative” as opposed to just writing about having this skill.
— Francesca, Claremont McKenna College & HBS
Think you might be ready for a final application review, or think you could benefit from one down the road? Talk to a coach about how they could help take your application to the next level.
To learn more about the coaches featured above, click here.