UCLA Anderson | Ms. Qualcomm Quality
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Ms. Retail To Technology
GMAT 670, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Fill In The Gaps
GRE 330, GPA 3.21
Darden | Mr. Military Communications Officer
GRE Not taken yet, GPA 3.4
HEC Paris | Mr. Introverted Dancer
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Navy Vet
GRE 310, GPA 2.6
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Texas Recruiter
GMAT 770, GPA 3.04
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Entertainment Agency
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Quant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Ross | Mr. Top 25 Hopeful
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Well-Traveled Nonprofit Star
GRE 322, GPA 3.0
Yale | Mr. Gay Social Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 2.75 undergrad, 3.8 in MS
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 3.3
London Business School | Mr. Low Undergrad GPA
GMAT 760, GPA 65/100 (1.0)
Harvard | Mr. Aspiring FinTech Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Ms. Hotel Real Estate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Columbia | Mr. Infra-Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Vigor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Sans-Vertebrae
GMAT 730, GPA 3.78
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. M&A Analyst
GRE 323, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Ms. Analytical Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9

10 Mistakes To Avoid On Your Application

It’s a fact of life when you apply to a top business school: the odds are against you. For every applicant who gets a “yes” from Harvard, there are nine or so who are turned down. If you want to get into any highly ranked MBA program in the world, you are effectively swimming against the tide.

So how do you get the odds tilted in your favor? Certainly by avoiding common mistakes many applicants make.

Here are the 10 most common mistakes I have seen as an admissions consultant and how you should avoid them:

  • Overemphasizing your business experience in your application essays – Top MBA programs want to get to know you as a person. What are your passions? What has shaped you into the person you are today? Simply listing one professional accomplishment after another you will not lead to an acceptance letter.
  • Overemphasizing the GMAT/GRE – We’ve helped students with GMATs in the 500s gain entry into HBS. We’ve also worked with clients who seek our help when reapplying after applying on their own and being rejected from HBS despite scoring a 750+ on the GMAT. Unlike other undergraduate and graduate programs, admission to MBA programs is based as much as or more on qualitative factors than quantitative factors.
  • Presenting a career vision that is disconnected from your current and prior experience – Certainly many people get an MBA in order to pivot in their careers. But trying to convince a school that you could start an AIDS awareness nonprofit in Zimbabwe after working on Wall Street for 10 years is unlikely to be successful. Schools want to be sure they will be able to place you into a job at graduation, so if the pivot is too significant they may not admit you.
  • Not having a focused career vision – Many students think they will explore a number of different career options during their first year in an MBA program. But admissions officers know the reality of the situation: There is very little time for exploration, since you’ll start searching for summer jobs by October of your first year. So make sure you have a focused career plan and convey it in your application.
  • Sending the same essay to multiple schools when they ask the same or similar questions – Each top school is looking for VERY different student profile; you’ll need to “sell” them what they’re looking to “buy.” When we work with clients applying to schools that have similar essay questions, we insist the clients write completely unique essays that best position them for acceptance to each individual school.
  • Misunderstanding the importance of extracurricular activities – Many students think schools just want to see that you give back to your community through extracurricular activities. In reality, schools are assessing your leadership potential through your extracurricular involvement. They want to see what projects you have spearheaded and what teams you have led. Depth of involvement is much more important than breadth.
  • Choosing a recommender because you feel like you have to – The #1 reason applicants do not get into schools that they should is a lukewarm or average recommendation. Choose recommenders who will say that you are the most incredible professional and individual they have worked with in their career. Don’t choose people who you know are tough recommenders just because they are direct supervisors or would be offended if you didn’t ask them.