How MBA Admissions Is Like Fantasy Football (Part 1)

If you’re like half of us here at Veritas Prep HQ, this is the time of year when you suddenly care a great deal about NFL players and teams that you don’t normally follow. You’ve got the fantasy football bug, and have signed on for at least 14 weeks of ups and downs generated by the motley assortment of players on your fantasy football team.

Back in August, you seemed to have it all figured out: You picked up an elite, top=tier, no-doubt-about it running back in the first round of the draft, got a top-five wide receiver with your second pick, and the rest just fell into place. Heck, you were even amazed by how great BOTH of your quarterbacks were, prompting yourself to wonder, “Just how competitive is this league that I’m in?”

Then, reality hit. Your “can’t miss” running is now in a platoon situation, your two best wide receivers have just one touchdown between them (and are tweeting about their lack of playing time), and your quarterback just suffered his third concussion in three years. Now, you wonder, “Do I even stand a chance in this league?”

So what do you do? You make adjustments.

You start trolling the waiver wires for possible replacements. You give some of the guys on the bench (that “depth” you were crowing about just several weeks earlier) a shot to fill in for your big-name players. You somehow find a way to field a full starting roster every week, and you manage to stay competitive. (After all, your opponents are probably dealing with the same challenges.)

So what does this have to do with MBA admissions? The lesson to take away is that your plans will inevitably change between the very start of the process and when you click “Submit” on your last business school application. Maybe you didn’t leave yourself enough time for the GMAT, and on September 24 you got a 650, and the HBS Round 1 deadline was only a week away. Or, after five weeks of coaching one of your recommendation writers, it started to become apparent that you weren’t going to get a recommendation (or at least a good one) from him in time. Or, maybe you learned that you were just weeks away from receiving a large promotion, potentially making your candidacy stronger after the promotion, and maybe even giving you second thoughts about applying now and walking away from such a great opportunity.

In every case, you have to step back and plan again. Didn’t get the GMAT score that you wanted? Then you consider taking the GMAT again, knowing that you’re better off applying with a 700 in Round 2 than a 650 in Round 1. (Perhaps you enroll in our new Essentials Course.) Or you hurry up and enlist the help of your “Plan B” recommendation writer, who ends up writing a better recommendation for you than anyone else does. Or you strategically wait a few weeks and let that promotion come through, so that you can show the big step up in job title (and salary) on your application data sheets.

In every case, things didn’t turn out the way you expected, and you smartly took a step back and asked, “What should I do differently to compensate for (or take advantage) of this new situation?” That ability to assimilate and act on new information not only makes for a great fantasy football manager, but it also happens to make for a great business manager, which is what MBA admissions officers are looking for to begin with.

Stay tuned for Part 2, when we’ll compare MBA admissions and fantasy football in an entirely different way, but one that will shed even more light on how to think about your business school candidacy strategically.

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