Applying to business school is one of the most involved application processes in graduate education. Other programs focus on standardized tests, or your academic record and others your professional accomplishments but business schools evaluate all aspects of a candidate’s profile. With so much on the table for evaluation it can be easy for an applicant to come up short in one or more different areas.
However, often times what many candidates think their shortcomings are differs from the actual reality of how admissions teams view their applications. Applicants tend to obsess over GMAT scores and how senior their recommenders are but overlook a few simple application necessities.
Let’s focus on a few of these common MBA application mistakes that candidates make:
1) School Knowledge
You would think this would be an obvious area a candidate would focus on when committing so much time to an application, but this tends to be an area that is often neglected. The source of this typically comes from a few different places. The most common is time, when a candidate is applying to multiple schools, school research is one of the first areas that is neglected. When applying to business school a one size fits all approach is not the strategy a competitive applicant should take. MBA programs are looking for applicants who make a strong case for why their school is the ideal place to further their business education, so each application should be tailored appropriately from scratch.
A similar application mistake many candidates make is not showing enough fit with their target programs. Breakthrough candidates will not only select programs that make sense given their development goals but also curate an application that makes this fit obvious. If the school selection process is executed properly then the application creation should be much easier. Make sure to identify academic programs, coursework, clubs, and career opportunities that are unique to the target program.
3) Attention to Detail
This key area truly pervades every aspect of the application process and I would argue is one of the easiest ways to make a negative impression with the admissions committee. When creating an application, candidates should strive to make the best impression possible and anything that detracts from this diminishes the chance of admission. Issues like spelling mistakes, not following application directions, typos, and general carelessness create the wrong impression for a candidate in a very competitive process. Even candidates with great profiles can marginalize their chances by showing a lack of attention to detail which can turn an “admit” into a “waitlist” or “ding.”
Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.