Common Mistakes to Avoid in your B-school Applications

October 29, 2014 | by Matt Symonds

Whether you’re just getting started with your MBA applications, or are adding the final touches before the upcoming deadlines, we’d like you to be aware of some common mistakes that many applicants make when applying to b-schools. It’s easy to get so wrapped up with what you want to communicate that you might not be aware of simple oversights in your own applications. At Fortuna, our coaches, who worked at top MBA programs, have shared their experiences around common applicant mistakes that they regularly observed candidates make. Drawing on their many years of experience in MBA admissions, we’d like to offer some advice to keep you on track.

Judith Silverman Hodara, who headed up Admissions at Wharton, shares her tips on this topic in Fortuna’s new video, Common Mistakes to Avoid in your B-school Application.

Judith’s first tip highlights the common practice of using your essays to simply regurgitate facts from your resume. With many schools reducing the number of essays (as well as essay length), think wisely about how to use the precious space to communicate important messages about yourself. Your essays should bring to life who you are as a candidate and should convey your individual personality. Some essays also end up listing too much information without explanations or depth behind specific examples. When it comes to your essays, focus on depth rather than breadth.

Another common mistake is submitting a rushed application with careless errors, often a result of waiting to the last minute to apply. Even for applicants with top GMAT scores and competitive work experience, it was clear when they had not invested the time to be self reflective in their essays or when they did not do their due diligence on a school. Make sure you plan out a timeline for completing your applications well in advance and try your best to stick to it. Don’t forget to give your recommenders enough time (think weeks rather than days!) before your application deadlines.

Last, it’s important to customize each application to the school to which you’re applying. If, for example, you’re applying to a b-school that puts a lot of weight on leadership and innovation, you want to think of relevant examples when you demonstrated these qualities and figure out how you can showcase these examples in your application. When it comes to essays, it’s not wise to use the exact same essay from one school for another. Although some questions might appear similar, think about what each question is really asking and make sure that the content in your essays gets quickly to the thrust of the questions being asked. Always double check that you’re using the name of the school to which you’re applying in your applications! You would be surprised how many applicants carelessly leave in the name of the wrong school in their application.

For more advice on pitfalls to avoid, click here to watch Judith’s video.

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