The Best Advice Graduating MBAs Have For New B-School Applicants

Ellen Gartner Phillips

Ellen Gartner Phillips

The Experience Is What You Make It

“B-school is what you make of it, and you have to be unafraid to ask the hard questions to get ahead.  One of the best things about Kelley is that the resources to answer those questions are at your fingertips:  faculty that are excited to sit down and discuss their research, career services that make a point of understanding what you want out of life, not just your career, and a student body and alumni base that wants to see each and every member succeed.”

– Ellen Gartner Phillips / Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“The major advice I would give an applicant to Rice is to be true to yourself and your gut. Your gut will not steer you wrong. I would advise the applicant to take a deeper look at the people he will spend the next two years with. Every business school teaches the same material, but the faculty, staff and other students make your experience worthwhile.”

Kevin Bentley / Rice University, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

“Make best use of the various opportunities and programs available at Kelley such as Leadership Academy, GLOBASE, Student Club events, and case competitions because these activities will enrich your experience and help you succeed both professionally and personally. It is very rare that you will be offered so many opportunities all in one place. Consider taking up leadership positions in order to hone your leadership and people management skills.”

– Ramanuja Atur / Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Scott Sowanick

Scott Sowanick

“Rethink applying to McCombs if you do not genuinely enjoy teamwork and learning from your peers. Those are two pillars of the McCombs culture and among many reasons why UT is an amazing place to earn your MBA.”

– Scott Sowanick / University of Texas, McCombs School of Business

“MBA life has ups and downs like ordinary life. Be prepared for that and work hard on you to turn your dreams into reality. Find your passion and follow it. You will receive full support from everyone, but you are the driver for that, the one who has to take initiative (it is your dream). Always be open-minded and respectful – things are not always better or worse, but often just different. Get inspired by your classmates and inspire others. The IESE MBA is a life-changing experience, if you allow it – as often in life, you get out, what you put in. Take the unique chance to do the international modules and learn about China, the US, Africa or Latin America on-site. And finally, always be positive!”

– Victoria Teworte / IESE Business School


Benjamin Freedman

Benjamin Freedman

Don’t Be Self-Conscious About Your Background

“Don’t be worried if you have a “non-traditional” background. You’ll be just fine and will be celebrated for your experiences. And, before starting school, take some time to think about a few different paths you’d be interested in pursuing – things don’t always work out as you might envision and having other options can be really helpful.”

– Benjamin Freedman / Yale School of Management

“Be your full self and be confident that you add value. Diversity is valued at UNC Kenan-Flagler, so don’t feel pressured to fit into the stereotypical business school mold.”

– Taylor Mallard / University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School


Don’t Buy Into the Stereotypes

“Don’t believe the stereotypes.  HBS is an incredible melting pot of passionate young leaders from around the world.  To that end, don’t worry about fitting into a certain mold as an applicant – HBS is looking for diversity in thought, experience, and background.”

– Michael Martin / Harvard Business School

Geoff Nykin

Geoff Nykin

Being Rejected Isn’t the End of the World

“Relax and be yourself. I would encourage applicants to take all the necessary steps, such as networking with alums, studying for the GMAT, researching Olin, talking to current Olin students, and determining how he or she can positively impact the school, but I would also want them to know that no matter what school they attend they will be okay. Too often, we, as MBA applicants, place so much stress on ourselves during the application process. A school is an important platform for success—for me, Olin was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made— but every student’s achievements are a function of their work, attitude, and network. It’s important to see a school as part of the process of being successful, not the final step in achieving it.”

Geoff Nykin / Washington University, Olin Business School


Stephanie Landry

Stephanie Landry

Enjoy It While You Can

“What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? First, I am insanely jealous of the next two years of your life.  Remind yourself EVERY DAY that you only get to do this once, so make sure you soak it all in.  Meet as many people as you possibly can, and do so without any thought of social status, popularity, etc – nobody cares about that stuff at Wharton – EVERYONE is worth knowing for one reason or another.  And when you think you have met everyone, pinch yourself because you are definitely dreaming – keep going.  I promise that you will continue to meet new people until the day you graduate, and they will ALL impress you.”

– Stephanie Landry / Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania



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