Here’s a quick list of mistakes we see people making in their bschool apps All. The. Time.
- Underestimate the importance of Round 1.
- Toss out totally ambitious career goals – like saying you want to be CEO.
- Toss out totally ambiguous career goals – like saying you want to lead a company.
- Paper the country with applications.
- Use the same essay for multiple schools.
Here’s why these are problems:
- Round 2 has traditionally been feasible but the competition is heating up – and last season was exceptionally tight in Round 2. If you’re in any sort of crowded candidate pool, then Round 1 is of even more importance.
- It is not realistic to say you’re going to be CEO of any organization in the timeframe that the adcoms want to see you discussing. You’re going to graduate from bschool and become, what, an associate? A consultant? A product manager? How soon do you think you’re going to be able to progress from that role to running the whole show? The adcoms are looking for ACTUAL GOALS – not dreamy-eyed ideas.
- Saying you want to lead a company is different since that could potentially be you presenting an entrepreneurial goal – but that statement above is totally lacking. Are you saying you will LAUNCH a company and then lead it? Or are you going to go find some company to acquire? Or convince a board of directors to hire you as CEO? All of these require different strategies of presentation.
- More is not better in terms of application strategy. In fact, if you apply everywhere in Round 1, then you’re losing out on chances to rebound and recover if none of them work out. Always hang onto at least one favorite school for a Round 2 strategy if needed. Also, whenever someone says they’re applying to 10 schools, that tells us a) they don’t have a strategy, b) they’re a little bit desperate, c) they haven’t done the research to know which schools are actually a proper fit, and d) they totally don’t understand the workeffort required to do a good job on ONE application. So basically, we start to lose hope right out of the gate.
- Not only is it very unusual that one essay will ever work wholesale for another school’s question, the bigger risk here is that the schools can usually tell when you wrote an essay for someone else yet submitted it to them. Talk about a turnoff. It’s like the loser who sends the same come-on message to every OKCupid contact. You think the chicks can’t tell?
There’s actually a helluva lot more ways to blow your chances with your MBA apps than this – but we realized as we constructed that short list that basically every post here on the blahg is about that. We caution you Brave Supplicants all over the place about missteps and fallacies of thinking. What we recommend is read the posts here – especially the ones listed in the right column that say “What we were talking about at this time in past years” – since those are especially relevant and timely for where we’re at in the cycle right now. Don’t forget to use the Search box at the top (right column when you’re on the main page) and to explore the Categories of posts, too – either the ones listed out at the bottom of every post, or using the dropdown menu in that right sidebar.
Bad essays are the main reason that an otherwise good application is rejected. Good essays can flip a borderline profile to acceptable. You have it all in your control.
At minimum you may want to check out our Pre-Submit Sanity Check service – though the full Essay Decimator is strongly recommended (yes there’s still time! even for Harvard!).
And before you do that, leverage the resources available. Like, read the silly app strategy guide that we wrote for your school before writing your drafts. It’s a little bit crazy how often we get materials submitted from Brave Supplicants that have very basic issues in evidence. A lot of the grief of the review-and-feedback process could be avoided if more time was spent exploring the resources available here before sending stuff in.
Aw shucks there we go lecturing you again. 🙂
We wish all of you the best of luck – Brave Supplicants, you can do this! There’s still enough time to do a bang-up job on those applications. We’re here to help!