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Consider The 3 C’s When Applying For an MBA

MBA admissions officers often try to seek out students who will fit a b-school’s culture and add to their community.

This is evident in the essay prompts that are often used to gauge whether an applicant’s character and career goals align with the b-school’s culture and offerings. For instance, the Kellogg essay prompt asks applicants to show how they’ve gone above-and-beyond.

“Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn?”

Experts say fit is crucial when it comes to finding the right MBA program. Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed the three C’s – curriculum, culture, and communication – that applicants should consider when focusing on fit.


While all MBA programs will offer a certain foundation in core management skills, Blackman says applicants should seek out programs that align with your career goals.

“If you have laser-focused career goals, consider business schools that offer a concentration in your area of interest,” Blackman writes. “You might also prefer a school with a more versatile curriculum from the beginning that you can really tailor to your needs. Choose a program with a curriculum that suits you and your learning style best.”


When it comes to culture, Blackman suggests applicants to asses schools based on whether their culture is predominantly competitive or collaborative. To do that, she says, you’ll want to look at size and location.

“Larger programs in urban centers, such as Harvard, Wharton, and Chicago Booth, typically feel much more competitive and intense,” Blackman writes. “Smaller business schools and those located in rural settings usually foster a close-knit community feeling. Here, many students live on campus and socialize with fellow students and faculty regularly. MBA programs with smaller cohorts take pride in their down-to-earth, collaborative cultures.”


Lastly, Blackman advises applicants to seek out MBA programs where the admissions team seems genuinely interested in getting to know you.

“A great way to gauge this is by seeing how often and how much engagement the admissions committee offers you,” Blackman writes.

Ultimately, Blackman says, the three C’s will help you find a b-school where you can succeed.

“Knowing yourself and how a particular school suits your professional goals and needs is the essence of making the right choice,” she writes.

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, Northwestern University