What’s the most important factor for getting into business school? Take your pick. Your GMAT reflects your academic prowess. Your career progression reveals your potential. And your essays display your spirit and self-awareness. Ultimately, when the big decision rolls around, some adcoms factor in another criterion:
“Are you someone who I still want to hang out with after finishing up a class project at 2 AM?”
That question was posed to a Poets&Quants reader by Jon Fuller, a Clear Admit consultant who spent four years as the Senior Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. While the advice is colorful, it conveys a hard truth in admissions. Schools, like employers, “hire” students whom they like. They may identify with your background and admire your accomplishments. You may even check every box on their wish list. If they can’t picture you as a go-between who can partner with and inspire your peers, you’ll probably end up waitlisted (at best).
Since partnering with Poets&Quants in 2014, Fuller has guided hundreds of readers, offering, advice, options, and empathy for those looking to enter business school. For Fuller, there are no shortcuts to earning an acceptance letter. The process involves mastering key fundamentals: Planning, prudence, practice, and, perseverance. And it requires knowing who you are, what you want…and why.
“A common pitfall,” Fuller tells one reader, “is to not really be clear on why you want to go to a particular program besides the fact that it’s an “Ivy League” school, an M7, a top X program, etc., so be sure that you can fluently articulate why you want to go to any particular school beyond those sorts of superficial dimensions. In the meantime, tackle the GMAT, keep up with being a strong performer at work, and hopefully you’ll be ready to put together quality applications in a few months.”
In recent months, Fuller has helped readers grapple with issues where answers always clear-cut. How do you blunt bad choices that can’t be undone? What can I do to stand out from 3,000 other applicants? What can I do right now to improve my chances? Indeed, with first round deadlines looming in the coming months, many applicants are feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. To them, Fuller counsels being humble and patient enough to act when the time is right.
“I get how this all might seem a bit daunting,” Fuller writes, “so my last piece of advice is to lay out something of a roadmap for yourself for the next few years. Milestones can include prepping for and taking the GMAT, completing some classes, achieving near-term professional goals (new job, or if that’s not possible, secure a promotion or something), researching programs, etc. The overall list can seem huge, but breaking it down into pieces might make it feel more manageable.”
Looking for direction when it comes to your admissions questions? Click on the topics below to read some of Jon’s recent strategies for increasing your shot at being accepted into business school.
(To send Jon a question, click here. Please share your own advice for our readers in the comments below).
To read the first two parts of our series with Jon, click on the links below.