After you’ve narrowed down the list of business schools you are looking to attend, you should begin to study each MBA program and look for consistency in what qualities the admissions team says they are looking for. Make an effort to identify patterns and consensus about what characteristics are most prized. If one MBA admissions team member says that Columbia Business School values entrepreneurship then it isn’t as significant as if you’ve consistently heard this message in all of the information sessions you have attended.
Particularly, you should be looking for “buzz words” that the admissions team uses often. Through emphasizing these words, an admissions team is trying to tell you what characteristics they believe are most important in an applicant. If the term, “team spirit” comes up again and again in your research about a particular MBA program, then you should emphasize your collaborative abilities. You should also make your own list of characteristics for each of your business schools. There will probably be some cross over between business schools but you should have an understanding of the characteristics they are looking for. The following examples of qualities are not meant to be all inclusive, but they will give you an example of what a list could look like:
- Harvard: Strategic Thinkers and individuals who take action and are driven by new challenges
- Wharton: Analytical, Innovators with a Global Perspective
- Stanford: Innovative, Audacious Unique Leaders who are looking to change the world
- Kellogg: Team players, Selfless Contributors who lead according to strong ethics
At this point, you will hopefully be developing a persuasive marketing campaign that will make you stand out among your peers. This knowledge will be important when you are expressing your personal brand. The entire business school application process was created to see if you are strategic in your actions and to see if you have a talent for persuading the admissions team to believe in what you can bring.
For more robust guidance on your MBA application essays, check out the Stacy Blackman Consulting Essay Guide Series – school specific guides with essay tips, sample essays, information on what your target schools value and more.
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