Getting In: The Best of Jon Fuller (The Sequel)



How Do I Overcome a Lack of Extracurriculars?

“ECs and activities are important since they give the adcom an indication as to whether or not you’ll be involved as a student, how you’ll spend your time outside of class, etc. They also help to make your more memorable and interesting. Often candidates only think of volunteer roles when it comes to this part of the application, but you might have more than you think.”

“The challenge is twofold: figuring out how to best package/present those assets (once you identify them); and convincingly conveying through your essays/application how you’re going to be involved and engaged and how you’ll contribute to the program as a student.”

Who Should I Contact About a Letter of Recommendation?

“…It can be a mistake to ask someone to write you a letter just because they hold a really senior position at your company. The title is nice, but what ultimately matters more is how well the writer knows the quality of your work, your potential, your interpersonal skills, etc. If that applies to the CFO, great, but in most circumstances, you’ll have better options.

Schools will generally want to hear from your current or prior supervisor for one of your recommendations. That person should theoretically know you well in a professional context and can provide personal anecdotes from your work projects and assess your leadership/managerial potential. Ideally, your supervisor also likes you and is supportive of your MBA plans, making it more likely that you’ll get a quality recommendation filled with substantive observations of your performance.

For your second recommendation, a former supervisor could also work well, but regardless, the same sorts of selection principles will apply. You didn’t provide much detail about your work history, but if you previously worked at another company or in another area of your current firm, options that you have from that stage of your career could be helpful, too. While the anecdotes might end up being more dated, ideally they’ll be thematically comparable and you’ll run less of a risk of your two letters sounding too similar to one another.”

How Do You Write an Optional Essay?

“…it’s fine to speak to more than one topic in the optional essay space, but ideally, you don’t want to have a laundry list of things to explain about your profile! I wouldn’t hesitate submitting an optional essay if I had something important to address, but you also need to be mindful that you’re really creating more work for the adcom, so being concise is generally a good idea. I always refer to this area of the application as an “essay” too, but calling it that can be a bit of a misnomer – it doesn’t have to take the form or length of a traditional essay. For example, I’ve had clients do well with bulleted statements, one for each topic being covered with a sentence or two for each bullet.”

How Do I Position My Professional Experience?

“…Translate your experiences in ways that the adcom is more accustomed to seeing. Your resume and other aspects of your application should clearly show (in quantifiable ways whenever possible) how you’ve had an impact on your company, your clients, etc. Think about how your actions have increased profitability, cut costs, improved efficiency, and so on.”

On My Application, Should I Submit Just My GRE (780 / 95th Percentile), Report Both my GMAT (750 / 68th Percentile) and Include GRE in “Additional Information,” or Report GRE and INlcude GMAT in Resume?

“I’d go with [the first one], although I wouldn’t fault you if you had proposed submitting just your GMAT instead since the overall GMAT is quite strong. While it’s tempting to present the other score through another channel on the application, I wouldn’t attempt to sneak in the other score. With HBS in particular, in past applications, you would’ve been able to submit both scores, but in this year’s iteration, you submit one or the other. Stanford also requires you to pick one exam type to enter. Call me a rule follower, but from my own experience working in admissions, I was always annoyed when a candidate did something that was easily construed as intentionally not adhering to the defined application process – it messes with the level playing field that Admissions tries to establish for all applicants…Also, in an application context, your resume should really never include your standardized test scores.”

Should My Recommenders Hold MBAs?

“. . . I wouldn’t sweat the aspect about your recommenders not having MBAs. While it varies by industry, anecdotally, I’d say that it’s more the exception than the rule that recommenders have an MBA, too. As long as they’re able to provide useful and informed insights on your performance and experiences, and back up those insights with tangible examples of your work, you should be fine.”

How Does Earning a Fellowship Help My Chances?

“…That’s a fantastic accomplishment and great differentiating feature. It’ll make a positive impression all on its own, but more than the accomplishment itself, I’d want to hear how it impacted your world view, goals, and so on. How does it and the rest of your pre-MBA experiences fit together and clearly point to how the MBA is the next logical and essential step for you to take?

There are a variety of reasons why the fellowship will distinguish you, but one that particularly comes to mind is that it’s evidence of you being able to be successfully navigate a very selective application process. You’re a winner!”


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