With the first of the round 2 deadlines in just over 2 weeks, it is time to do a status check on your progress and make sure your applications are solid. For some of you, waiting until next year (or for a select few considering round 3) may be the way to go.
Unsure if your applications are ready? Here are a few things to look out for.
- Is your story clear? Does the reader walk away knowing you are and what matters to you? In many instances, this should include some personal and some professional perspective. However, this does not mean they have to know EVERYTHING about you. The reader should walk away with one or two key takeaways on who you are and what makes you a unique fit.
- Are the stories consistent throughout all the application components? Your resume, essays, short answer questions and letters of recommendation should all include the same general message. Any inconsistencies are an instant red flag!
- Have you clearly thought out and articulated why you want an MBA? To get promoted or to gain business skills are not good reasons. While not all schools ask this question, all candidates should be able to clearly explain (either in the essay or in the interview – if given the chance) what skills and experiences they hope you gain from an MBA and how it will help to attain their career goals.
- Some of the essays are similar across schools and you may start with material from one school and try to morph it into essay content for another school. Whether you morph material or not, make sure that you are being specific enough about each school in your application.
- Admissions committee members read thousands of essays every year, and it is very easy for them to determine who is genuinely interested in the school and knows a lot about the program and who crafted a generic essay.
Short Answer Questions
- Short answers are very important! Don’t let the fact that the questions are brief and only part of the online application fool you into thinking they aren’t necessary to focus on.
- Ensure the same voice is carried throughout your application, which includes your resume, essays and short answer questions.
- These questions may only ask for 250 characters, but optimizing those characters to tell the strongest story you can will take some time.
- One of the most overlooked areas of the application is the recommendation section.
- Ensure your recommenders know your complete story and can write letters that help to corroborate that story.
- To the extent that your thinking has developed as you went through the application phase, make sure to update your recommenders.
- Are your essays really strong enough?
- Do you find yourself re-reading paragraphs because you don’t see how they exactly fit into the essay or you are unsure if the arguments are strong enough?
- It is a good idea to have someone else read over your essays, and ask someone who isn’t extremely familiar with what you do on a daily basis. This will give you an outsider’s objective opinion of your accomplishments and help to ensure you are talking about your experiences with the right level of detail for someone outside of your industry.
- Is your essay telling the reader something about you? While a story can often add to or even make a great essay, the goal for every essay is to convince the admissions committee that you will add value on campus (and beyond). Make sure every essay sends a message about what you have to add.
A Wharton MBA graduate with a BS from MIT, Scott has been an MBA admissions consultant for eight years and has helped hundreds of applicants around the world get into top MBA programs. Besides perfecting the MBA admissions process and making dreams come true for applicants from Tokyo to San Francisco and everywhere in between, Scott has also worked across consulting, financial services and strategy & corporate development roles before becoming a Full-Time admissions consultant.
If you would like help applying to Dartmouth Tuck or any other top business school, set up a free consultation session with Scott here to learn more about his unique and personalized support.
Note from the Apply team: Opinions expressed by Apply MBA Contributors are their own.