How to Think Like an Admissions Committee Member: Part III

In this final post about how to think like an admissions committee member, we should discuss how to let your personality shine through. First, be sure to take a look at Part I and Part II from this mini-series.

Given that differentiating yourself and being memorable are keys to getting attention from essay readers,  there is no better way to sound different than to simply be yourself.  Everyone likes a bit of humor, so if you were in the shoes of the decision makers, wouldn’t you appreciate a bit of levity and humility when hearing about someone’s work achievements?  If it’s 11pm on a Tuesday night and you are cranking through the 15th essay  package from another accountant that day, what would make you remember that person?

Revealing personality through your stories is not necessarily intuitive.  It’s likely that your instincts are telling you to pump up your professional achievements—this is business school after all, so why not be all business?  The problem with this, however, is that you risk sounding like everyone else.  It’s the personal details of your life that make it most distinguishable from someone else’s and you might be shocked to find how similar projects at work start to sound, not to mention volunteer efforts or cricket team excursions.

What is your family history?  What do you tell your friends when they ask you why you have chosen to go back to business school?  Honesty and emotion or passion go a long way towards revealing to the adcoms what they really want to know: who are you and how did you get that way?  Does what you say need to demonstrate some core b-school friendly attributes?  Yes, but not everything you say has to tie into your short and long term goals, and it’s not just the successes in our lives that is the most revealing.

Talking about a failure can not only demonstrate maturity, but also the true nature of how we respond in difficult situations and how we overcome setbacks.  Business is an inexact science, so wouldn’t you rather hire someone who has seen how not to do something?  They will like seeing that experience in you as well.

One easy exercise to make sure you are thinking like an adcom member is to ask yourself after you read your essays if you feel like you know the person who wrote them.  Is it a good representation of the total you, not just the professional you?  Do they reveal the process and not just the results of your experience?  In the end, the one key goal in your application is to be genuine.

The purpose of these posts is not to provide some kind of recipe for cooking up what the adcoms want to see, but rather just the opposite.  Thinking like an adcom member is to ask yourself if what you are presenting to them is fresh, original and from the heart.   If you do this, you will be seeing things the way they do and will be putting your best foot forward.

Good luck, and as always, let us know if we can help you draw out your best!

If you have MBA admissions questions, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! If you’re thinking that you’d like to raise your GMAT score, we have GMAT classes starting next week!

Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons.

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