Wharton | Ms. Product Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. PM To Tech Co.
GMAT 720, GPA 3.2
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Tech In HR
GMAT 640, GPA 3.23
MIT Sloan | Mr. Electrical Agri-tech
GRE 324, GPA 4.0
MIT Sloan | Mr. Aker 22
GRE 332, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Anthropologist
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Consulting Research To Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0 (no GPA system, got first (highest) division )
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future Tech In Healthcare
GRE 313, GPA 2.0
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Environmental Sustainability
GMAT N/A, GPA 7.08
Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Ms. Creative Data Scientist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Military To MGMNT Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Mr. Agri-Tech MBA
GRE 324, GPA 4.0
Wharton | Mr. Data Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 7.76/10
Harvard | Ms. Nurturing Sustainable Growth
GRE 300, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Ms. Senior PM Unicorn
GMAT 700, GPA 3.18
Harvard | Mr. Lieutenant To Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. “GMAT” Grimly Miserable At Tests
GMAT TBD - Aug. 31, GPA 3.9
Yale | Mr. IB To Strategy
GRE 321, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Overrepresented MBB Consultant (2+2)
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Kellogg | Ms. Freelance Hustler
GRE 312, GPA 4
Kellogg | Ms. Gap Fixer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.02
Harvard | Mr. Little Late For MBA
GRE 333, GPA 3.76
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Wellness Ethnographer
GRE 324, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Ms. Financial Real Estate
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. The Italian Dream Job
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
NYU Stern | Mr. Labor Market Analyst
GRE 320, GPA 3.4

Maximizing The Minimalist MBA App

essay-writing-2You should view your MBA application as the admissions committees do: as a holistic package of documents that work together to provide a comprehensive and cohesive introduction to you. Think of it as a puzzle with different pieces fitting together to create a full picture. The different components of the application each play a different role in adding to this complete picture:

  • Test scores and grades: This data offers straightforward facts about your academic capabilities. They separate the academic brains from the academic bottoms.
  • Resume: Your resume or CV (or job history on the application) highlights your professional accomplishments and contributions. The key word here is “accomplishments.” Focus on achievements and successes and not just descriptions of your responsibilities.
  • Non-professional activities list: Similarly, this part of the application showcases non-professional achievements, initiatives, and commitments. Remember: MBA programs want multi-dimensional students who take initiative and prudent risks. They do not want nerds, automatons, or grinds. They want contributors with impact.
  • Essays: The essays in your application puzzle reveal your motivations, character, and insights. They offer the adcom a window into your subjective perspective. They provide you with an opportunity to dive deep into a few specific, seminal experiences.
  • Short answer and optional questions: These supplement and complement the above material (which should, in turn, complement each other) with minimal duplication. Make the most of them! They are opportunities, not throw-aways!

When you’re dealing with a relatively short application, each element is weighed more heavily than in a longer application. Don’t ever neglect one section in the hope that a stronger other section will make up for your sloppiness or lack of detail. Each component must be thorough and complete, for without even a small part of one section, the adcoms will miss out on an integral part of your personal puzzle. They won’t receive the full introduction and will therefore be more likely to pass on your fragmented introduction in favor of another applicant’s incisive portrait.

Pay attention to detail; make sure you address each component in its entirety; and work to provide the most vibrant and accurate puzzle pieces for the admissions committee to put together as they meet you through your application.

By Linda Abraham, CEO and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.  Linda has been helping MBA applicants gain acceptance to top MBA programs since 1994.