Imagine how that may apply to a business school. If you go to a school’s admission event, visit the campus, attend classes, and talk to admitted students, professors and the admissions team, you have probably have done more than 80% of applicants. The reason is simple: they only have 20% of the time to do so, as they’re applying to five schools at once. If you do take your time to get to know school in person though, you will know better why you’re applying, and get the credit for it.
For me, this advice is not just hollow or based on hear-say. I successfully applied at Wharton: it was the only school I applied for. I previously got an MA from Columbia University: it was the only school I had applied for. And I started my career at Bain & Company: it was one of only two companies I applied for (the other one being McKinsey).
In all those applications, I made it very clear how determined I was to be accepted at that specific organization, and for which particular reasons.
As for Wharton, I made sure I attended several info sessions (in DC, New York and Philadelphia!), several classes and seminars (on both the East Coast and the West Coast!), and even met professors in person, all around the world (even at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland!).
At the time I did those things, it didn’t fit in a grand scheme to get accepted. At the end though, all these pieces fit into the perfect application puzzle. Just like Woody Allen, I realized that 80% of success was showing up—and that’s exactly what I did. I showed up. You’d be surprised how few people actually do that, and how far it can get you.
Peter Vanham, 28, will start Wharton’s Executive MBA program next May.