How to Turn Your Negative Thoughts Into MBA Success

MBA EssaysAre your doubts about business school and thoughts of impending failure creeping in? Well, the good news is that this can work in your favor, according to best-selling author and Wharton’s top rated teacher, Adam Grant. In his book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Grant shares one approach of those challenging the status quo: defensive pessimism.

The good news is that negative thoughts can be channeled positively. Feeling worried and imagining all the things that can go wrong with future plans can actually help you approach potential challenges with defensive pessimism.

In the case of your MBA applications, an effective way to use this anxiousness is by diligently covering all your bases – taking care to go through the list of tasks you need to accomplish and finding the right steps to take before officially submitting your application. Converting a realistic assessment of your candidacy into actionable plans can help turn your anxiety into motivation and focus.

In my nine years of working with clients who have diverse backgrounds and personalities, I have helped applicants who have varying levels of available time and effort to put into their business school applications. Time and again, those who made the most progress were the ones who could motivate themselves, reflect honestly, and take the following incremental steps towards their MBA goals:

Have Appropriate Fear
Professional sports coaches often talk about having “appropriate fear,” or the need for a team to respect their opponents and guard against complacency. Similarly, in the case of your own MBA applications, being conscious of timelines and honestly assessing how much time each application step takes will help keep you on track towards your end goal. This will  also allow you to you remain engaged with the tasks on hand, and not feel like you can magically finish them perfectly in one sitting.

Procrastinate Strategically
Another tip from Grant is to procrastinate strategically through actions such as taking a break in the middle of the brainstorming or writing process. I agree with this and have seen the benefits of clients first writing down initial ideas (even just bullet points) for their MBA application essays, and then letting their thoughts marinate while they take a break.

Coming back to an essay later on helps applicants reflect on what they have just written and better relate ideas with their underlying values and future goals, or even come up with better examples to use. The key is to take the break in the middle of the task (and not for too long) and to not use it as an excuse to delay getting started!

Welcome Criticism
Much of the stress from MBA applications comes from criticisms, whether from family, friends, or from your likely worst critic, yourself.

How you handle these criticisms will be the difference between defensive pessimism and harmful pessimism. You can let doubts about your worthiness as a candidate paralyze you, or be in total denial of critique regarding your profile and miss out on dealing with obvious blind spots. Alternatively, you can honestly appraise your perceived weaknesses and take the opportunity to address them with thoughtful reflections and powerful examples.

Use the steps above to help turn your business school worries into powerful motivation to keep you on track toward application success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

How to Avoid Negativity in Your MBA Application Essays

MBA EssaysAnyone who has gone through the MBA application process knows how stressful it is. Applicants have to wrestle with preparing for the GMAT, deciding which schools to apply to, evaluating probabilities of admission, and worrying about finances – all while juggling various pressures at work and home.

Handling all of these responsibilities simultaneously while targeting specific application periods makes it tempting to just rush through the essay writing process to meet school deadlines and move on to other duties. Exhausted and unfamiliar with this process, applicants often get side-tracked and spend their time fine-tuning their essays with the wrong starting points.

One of the most common mistakes I have seen candidates make during my past eight years working with Veritas Prep is allowing negativity to seep into their application essays. Being mindful of this tendency can take you several steps closer to crafting a great application.

Many MBA applicants express time and again how unhappy, insignificant or stuck they feel with their current roles or companies, and while we always encourage applicants to be honest in their essays, focusing on the negative aspects that are prompting you to apply for an MBA does not help your cause and just wastes precious space.

For example, saying something like “I am just a salesman,” or “It is a boring job with little intellectual challenges,” diminishes your own accomplishments and portrays your past experiences as weak and unremarkable. The admissions committee might also wonder if you would eventually feel negatively about your MBA experience at their program, and thus, be an ineffective ambassador for the program when you become part of their alumni community.

My advice is to remain truthful but to shift your perspective. It is true that you are very motivated to go from your current situation (point A) to your post-MBA goal (point B), however it is better to emphasize what you have gained or learned at point A and how this will help you get to point B, where you are excited to make a great impact, than to complain excessively about point A.

Filling in details on why you want to get to point B, adding in specifics about how your target MBA program will help get you there and why this is a worthwhile and realistic goal, would boost your chances of admission. Just as importantly, this positive outlook will also make you happier and help you plan the next stages of your life productively.

In conclusion, a positive mindset and tone will help you come across as forward-looking, optimistic, and grateful to the admissions committee. It will also help you focus on your goals and convince the school that you will be a valuable member of their community.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.