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8 MBA admission myths busted

DreamMBA Inc - October 14, 2019

MBA admissions myths

Top 8 MBA admissions myths

Are you a prospective MBA trying to distinguish the good advice from the bad when it comes to your applications? 

Sure, there are plenty of resources available to you – but how do you know what's real and what's not? 

This is a good starting point – here are 8 MBA admissions myths you ought to watch out for:

Myth#1: Schools specialise in certain areas.

  • Harvard specializes in general management
  • Wharton, Columbia and Booth are finance schools
  • Kellogg is all about marketing
  • MIT Sloan is about technology

The above statements are strong. Certain schools have strengths and weaknesses, which are dependent on the profiles of their faculty members, course offering and recruiting numbers. 

For example, Wharton places more candidates in finance in comparison to MIT, but that does not mean that an MIT grad will not be accepted to IB. 

A brief look at the employment reports, demonstrates that both schools place a decent percentage of their students into finance. However, stereotypes are usually hard to overcome.

Myth#2: My ultimate goal is to get into a top business school.

No. Getting into a top business school is just the first milestone. It is the start of a very long journey. It is essentially the investment phase. You will see the return on your investment later on in your career

Focus on your long term career goals and consider getting into the right business school as the first step in the right direction

Myth#3: A 1-year program is not a good option for someone wanting a career change.

Wrong. If you are planning a career in investment banking with no prior experience, opting for a two year MBA would probably more feasible. However, if you are planning to change your work function or industry, a 1-year MBA is more than adequate.

Myth#4: The admission committee wants a specific profile, and I should portray my profile accordingly.

Wrong. Most valuable MBA experience comes from the diversity of the class. 

Admission committees are always trying to make the class more diverse in terms of professional and personal profiles, nationalities, geographies and life experiences. Be yourself and show the admission committee that you are different and hence you will bring significant value to the class.

Your uniqueness will give you a higher chance of standing out from the profiles that are stereotypical. Consider for example, MIT. Most techies assume that MIT Sloan is looking for people with backgrounds in technology. Therefore, a disproportionate number of the candidate profiles that MIT receives are from people with technological experience, making competition higher. However, someone with a non-tech background will have less competition hence a higher chance of getting into the school.

Myth#5: MBA is for extroverts. I should portray myself as an extrovert.

No. Being an introvert or extrovert does not determine your success as a business leader. You will see hundreds of successful introverts doing very well in their post-MBA careers. 

If you falsely portray yourself as an extrovert, your essays and your interviews would contradict each other, which would result in a less compelling case of who you really are. Be yourself!

Myth#6: Writing essay for 1 school and re-using for another school is perfectly fine.

Not wise. Looking at the questions broadly it may seem most schools are asking the same question, but when read in detail the expectation in the answers differ from school to school. 

For example, one school expects you to focus more on why you want an MBA, while other school would like to know why are you applying to that school specifically. 

Another example: one school would like you to focus on describing a success or failure while the other school will require you to focus on what you learnt from that success or failure. 

Be careful. Minor differences in the wording of questions completely change the scope of the answers.

Myth#7: My weakness is that I am too good.

No. Admission committees are highly trained in identifying when you are pretending and when you are making up stories. They review thousands of applications every year so it is difficult to fool them. It’s best to be truthful.

Moreover, acknowledging and embracing your weakness shows the strength of your character. It demonstrates that you are self-aware: 1 of the key personality traits of effective business leaders. However, do not forget to mention that you have taken certain steps to overcome your weakness as it will portray you as a person who is self-aware and takes actions to continuously improve his/her personality.

That being said, you should be careful and not mention very strong weaknesses that cannot be fixed. For example, never say that you are too lazy and that you do not know how to fix yourself. (I am pretty sure that is a no brainer!)

Myth#8: There is a formula that the admission committee uses to determine applicant acceptance. 

A Business school application is not science - it is art. Formulae like “GMAT score of 760 + an undergrad GPA of 3.8 from a top 5 school + great extra-curricular + good references = A guaranteed admit at a top school” do not exist for 2 reasons:

  • The admission process is holistic in nature. Admission committees look at your application as a whole in order to assess if you would be a good fit for their school or not. It is more about an overall feeling that your application package provides.
  • There are uncertainties in the admission process, which can be introduced at any stage of your admission process. Admission committee members and interviewers are human beings who analyze you subjectively. Subjective evaluation might favor one candidate and hurt the chances of the other.

So, how can you fix this problem of subjectivity? 

Never apply only to one school and never take a rejection as a personal failure. However, if you get multiple rejections and no acceptances, be concerned and reach out to admission process experts. They will be able to identify the fundamental issues in your application and help you fix the problems.

Have you already found your dream school?

Once you've gotten in, we can help you out with an international student loan.

Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Post updated for accuracy and freshness on October 14, 2019. Originally published on July 8, 2014.

Guest blog post written by Dr. Omer Cheema from DreamMBA Inc. - feel free to reach out if you have any follow up questions.Dream MBA was a premium MBA admission consulting firm specializing in providing consulting services for MBA applicants to top 20 business schools worldwide. 

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