I am fascinated with National Geographic’s Air Crash Investigation series. It shows that in a lot of air crashes, human error and mechanical failure are more to blame than foibles of Nature.
Your planned take-off for a business school can crash as well, not from Nature or mechanical failure, but from your own doing unless you check yourself against the following (last of a two-part series):
6. Are you consistent?
An application package is like a biography that tells a story about who and what you are, your goals and objectives, your purpose of pursuing an MBA and why in the particular school you are applying into, etc.
Admission officers would like to see this kind of story, woven together seamlessly, in the documents supporting your application. They want to see your desire, your sincerity and your capacity to go through the whole course.
What they don’t like to see is a distinct disconnect between what you are projecting in your application package and what you are saying during the interviews and other qualification steps.
Some of the top business schools accept only about 10% of the applicants. Don’t blow your chances of being in that group by being inconsistent.
7. Don’t be too eagerly desperate:
Admission officers observe that some applicants are so eager to please, overly ingratiating or just plain desperate to get in.
Others have gone through life, earning or picking up along the way some things they are neurotically obsessive or defensive about.
In their eagerness, they project an image of either a drooling lap dog eager to sit or roll at the beck of admission officers or vigorously try to hide, justify or defend a perceived shortcoming or weakness.
Applying for a business school is like applying for a job or making a sales presentation. It is about putting your best foot forward, of “nailing” it, so to speak, without giving the impression that you are begging for it.
If you are in doubt where in the spectrum you belong to, go back to #2 of this series.
8. Have you visited the schools of your choice?
Online shopping has become an accepted form of buying things and it is growing exponentially year after year. But do you know why it will never totally replace off-the-counter buying? Because it does not have the excitement of feeling, seeing, touching, smelling and fitting in off-line buying.
You can visit the sites of the schools you are interested in, read every page, and view all pictures of their facilities. But you will never experience the warm handshake of faculty and admission officials, the smiles of the students, see their classrooms, campus grounds, sports facilities, dormitories, cafeteria, etc.
While this may need some investments in time and money, but a pittance compared to what you may lose in “buying” something that you have not actually seen.
9. Admission officers can err:
Admission officers can and do err – that’s a fact that exempts no human being.
Applying for a business school is a long and arduous process. It requires putting your best effort into it. At the end of the day, all you can do is to cross your fingers and hope that the laws of probability are in your side.
You can be more circumspect in this if you know that a typical admission officer takes between 15 to 45 minutes to review your application of 30 to 50 pages. He does this very briskly because there are other applications aside from yours.
His guidelines are more or less rules of thumb that he has “successfully” applied on thousands of applications he has reviewed in the past. His decision to “accept” or “reject” are not based on specifics but on the whole concept of your being yourself, your sincerity, desire, motivation, consistency in your goals and objectives in life, etc.
They can err. But take comfort that all applicants are treated the same way.
10. Are you now ready to apply?
This question reminds me of the day I decided to get married. For months and days prior to the big day, my mind was nothing but to get married – until the day before the wedding. Boy! Was I filled with fears and uncertainties I almost backed out.
The same feeling could grip a business school applicant.
An old salt in the admission process recommends that “you apply when your application is at its strongest.” That means you should give yourself and your application the complete rundown suggested in this checklist.
Further, it is also recommended that merit-based applicants apply earlier because the financial aid and slots for them are limited.
International students are recommended to do likewise considering the amount of paperwork needed for their relocation.
Otherwise, take as much time as you need before sending in your application. It is better to send in a late, but strong application, than an early one that sucks.