The Best MBA Admissions Advice From The Class Of 2019


Alex Chi, University of Chicago (Booth)

“Before startng on your application, it might be helpful to take a step back to construct a personal timeline that includes a handful of key decisions and inflection points in your life up to this point. The purpose is to reflect on why you made certain decisions and how they shaped your perspectives and actions. These notes helped me verify my core values, which I used as the guiding points for my short-term and long-term goals. I firmly believe the most effective applications are the ones that are authentic and personal.”

Alex Chi / Chicago (Booth)

Your application process should start with a thorough “personal audit” to understand why you need an MBA education. Thoughtful answers to the following questions can be helpful: what is your greatest passion? What are your strengths and weaknesses? In what kind of work environment do you thrive most? How do you see your career evolving in the next 5 to 10 years? What skill set do you need to reach your career goals? In what unique way your personal and professional experiences can contribute to a diverse classroom? Also, devote a lot of time to speak with people in your target industries so you can make an informed decision about your post-MBA objectives.”

Amevi Agbogbe / Virginia (Darden)

“If you have the chance, meet the school in person. Visiting the institution was extremely important to me so I could get in touch with the team, attend a class, and have a tangible sense of how my daily activities would be. During those days, I walked around the campus, met with student housing, and spoke to current first-year students so I could understand the pros and cons of studying and living abroad.

For a foreigner, an MBA is a significant change in life in every single aspect – from breaking your work routine to changing habits, food and culture – and you need to get to know how your future activities will be, understand how the environment you where you will be immersed works, and if you fit within it. After visiting Rotman, I was more than sure that it was the right place for me.

If you are in a relationship, make sure you bring your significant other to meet the school and get inserted in your future context. Attending an MBA in a marriage is a dream to be pursued by both of you; you need to make sure that as a couple you are on the same page and share the same vision.”

Rodrigo Paolucci / Toronto (Rotman)

Tim Lewis, University of Chicago (Booth)

“In retrospect, I wish I had thought more critically about my fit with various MBA programs earlier in the application process. I would have saved myself a lot of time and effort in the essay writing and interview preparation if I had taken more time to reflect deeply about what I wanted and which schools would provide the best opportunity based on my needs.

Before even starting applications, I wish I had been able to answer the following questions:

1) What are your strengths and weaknesses? What would you like to build upon or improve?

2) What can the MBA program teach you that would be important to your professional development? Why can and MBA program uniquely facilitate those skills?

3) What is your ideal job following the MBA? Where would you like to be in 10 years, and how will your MBA and first post-MBA job help you get there?

When I had not answered these questions well for myself, I struggled heavily in my applications. Because I was sometimes catering to what I thought MBA programs wanted to hear rather than being true to myself, I had to rewrite my essays again and again. It was an extremely frustrating yet humbling experience.”

Tim Lewis / Chicago (Booth)

“A good interview preparation starts from your decision to pursue the MBA. A decent GMAT score is important, but it would be more helpful to spend enough time on thinking through what you want from a MBA program than to improve GMAT from 660 to 700+ (Consulting is exempt as many top firms require certain level GMAT scores). Please start to think about your own story from the very beginning and put it into words in a SPECIFIC and LOGICAL method (e.g. STAR). Write down your answers to core questions and review them again and gain. Some core questions include:

Linsha Yao, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

1) Who am I? Strengths and weaknesses; Some key points that set myself apart from peers.

2) One or two significant achievements and lessons learned?

3) Why do you want an MBA?

4) Where do I want to improve immediately?

5) Why do I think some certain program can help?

6) What’s my short-term-term and long-term career goal?

7) What can I bring to the community when admitted?

All those questions will be deeply explored by admissions committees during the application review and interview. In your preparation, I suggest everyone talk to current students, alumni and business professionals whom you respect and trust. Listening to their feedbacks helps you understand how other people expect to observe and examine you.”

Linsha Yao / Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

“Give yourself time to reflect on your objectives and do research on why an MBA is the best choice to help you achieve them. Personal introspection and proper research are crucial for the process. You should carefully reflect on questions such as:

  • What is your personal story and what makes it outstanding?
  • What are your goals?
  • How the program can help you achieve those goals?
  • Why an MBA is a better choice for you than other postgrad options?
  • Why a specific school is a good fit for you and how you can contribute to its community?

Get to know the culture and characteristics of the different schools by talking to as many alumni as possible. It is also advisable to talk to the faculty and visit the schools. Ask everything you need to know and do not keep any questions to yourself. You will always find people willing to give advice or clear any doubts, no matter how simple those questions may seem.”

Luis Antonio Jiménez Rivera / HEC Paris

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