Don’t Talk About The Network!

“With Wharton’s 96,000 graduates, including world leaders in corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations, you’ll join the largest alumni network of any business school.”

“When you graduate with an MBA from Harvard Business School, you earn a place within a community of more than 80,000 alumni in 167 countries.”

“When students graduate, they are connected to a network of more than 23,000 MIT Sloan alumni and more than 128,000 MIT alumni around the world.”

Clearly, these MBA programs are proud of the alumni network that their students gain when graduating from these institutions. So why do I always guide my clients to avoid mentioning the alumni network in their application essays?

If you’re interested in going on a date with someone, you may tell a mutual friend to describe all of your good points: you’re good looking, funny, smart, and you make a good living, for example. But when she agrees to go out with you and you end up in a serious relationship, do you want her to say that the reason is because you make a good living? I doubt it. You’ll want to hear that your beautiful eyes reflect a deep soul, you’re fun to be with, and she feels like she can talk to you for hours.

In short, when we pitch ourselves, we may include assets that will capture another’s attention, but when we want to have a meaningful relationship with someone, we want to know that they are deeply connected to who we really are. Telling your top choice program that one of the major reasons you want to attend is to gain access to their rich and successful alumni base will really spoil the mood.

So is there a way to make use of everything you know about a school’s alumni base in your application essays? Yes, you can demonstrate that you have real understanding of what makes that alumni base special and a valuable asset in your MBA education. Which alumni came back to campus recently to speak and share their experiences? Why is that perspective so exciting for you to hear? What unique opportunities and programs does the school offer to learn from alumni in your chosen field?

For example, you can discuss how Jeffrey Beir’s Harvard i-lab talk about dividing equity among startup team founders would guide you in launching your venture. You can show how Mary Barra’s talk at Stanford’s View from the Top Speaker Series would help you succeed in your automotive industry career goals.

These more nuanced details will demonstrate that you are seeking a truly deep relationship with your MBA program and its alumni.

One of the questions you will almost certainly have to answer – either in an essay or an interview – is why do you need an MBA. Will you have a strong answer? Learn how to strategize effectively by checking out Accepted’s admissions guide, Why MBA? — get it here for free!

Jennifer has been an admissions consultant with Accepted for 19 years and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). She is an expert at crafting application materials that truly differentiate applicants from the rest of the driven applicant pool. Her clients have been accepted to top business schools worldwide including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, Kellogg, INSEAD and London Business School.

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