3 Common Myths that Derail MBA Applications

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Welcome to the Critical Square version of Mythbusters - MBA admissions edition! While we don't feature any explosions or cool science experiments like the actual show, our team at Critical Square has identified 3 common myths that are worth busting to help get you one step closer to your dream school. If you catch yourself a believer of one of these myths, it may be time to re-evaluate your MBA application strategy. Let's get started!

[Busted] Myth 1: I must attend an MBA program in the city I want work in after school.

There is no denying the appeal of working in New York City or Silicon Valley after school. Unfortunately, getting into top MBA programs like Columbia, Stern, Stanford, or Haas is no walk in the park since their location tends to attract larger numbers of applicants. While location does make a difference in recruiting in some instances (e.g. being in NYC down the street from investment banks or in the Bay Area a stone's throw from some hot startups), many companies are willing to look at other schools around the country for talent. Remember the end game of an MBA is to land you on the career path that you want so the best strategy is finding schools that give you the best odds. No need to get hung up on location. And if the company you're interested in doesn't come out to your school - go to them! What's a $300 plane ticket in the face of a $130K degree? Hustle!

Here are a few examples of what we are talking about. Did you know that despite being in the middle of the Midwest, Michigan Ross sends MBAs to highly coveted banking jobs at Goldman, Barclays, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley and ranks as a top feeder school to Amazon? Or what about the fact that Fuqua is a top school for MBAs wanting to work for Apple? You would be surprised at the opportunities that exist among different MBA programs located in diverse settings. Oh, and guess what? These programs are less competitive to get into while offering the same jobs as you would see from the elite MBA programs. Think about that as you shortlist schools. Rounding out your selection with these programs could really help you out!

[Busted] Myth 2: Admissions Committee are okay with the idea that I am using business school to explore different career opportunities.

Attending business school in hopes of discovering your dream job is fine. After all, most people attend business school with the goal of switching careers. However, one of the worst things you can do going into your application is to not having a specific career to switch into and believing that the admissions committee will let it slide.

There are thousands of other promising MBA candidates applying with a very clear vision on how they will use their professional and personal experiences to make their career goals happen and make an impact. They have a story and a plan which counts for a lot. There is simply no way an admissions committee will waste a valuable spot in their program for someone that is uncertain about his or her career goals no matter how smart the applicant is. This isn't undergrad and no free passes are given out for career exploration. What is okay to do is to start out with a career plan in mind and have that change while you are attending business school. It happens all the time. But at least figure out one option of what you want to do after you graduate for your business school applications.

[Busted] Myth 3: Unique backgrounds are the golden ticket to getting in.

If admissions committees had a dollar for every time they heard an applicant say his or her contribution to a school would be a unique perspective to his or her classmates, they'd be able to afford to give everyone admitted a scholarship. It is a major fallacy for applicants to believe that their background is one of a kind and how it will be highly valued by the admissions committee. While it is true that diversity is sought after by all MBA programs, it rarely trumps a low GMAT score or weak work experience. Odds are there are at least a dozen or so applicants with a very similar background to yours given the number of applicants that apply each year. The reality is that past experience doesn't matter as much in the classroom in terms of helping classmates learn as applicants think.

If you find yourself caught up in one of these common myths it might be time for you to reach out to us to chat. Our team of storytelling experts can make a real difference on your application and take a lot of the worry out of a very stressful process. Good luck!
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