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What Is The Most Important Part Of Your MBA Application?

Dawna Levenson, assistant dean of admissions at MIT Sloan, answers your Applicant Question Of The Week

Thu Aug 22 2019

It's time for another Applicant Question Of The Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the chance to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One of these questions is selected each week for our chosen expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from an anonymous applicant. 

Applicant Question Of The Week

Dear BusinessBecause,

What is the most important part of the MBA application process, and how can I make my application stand out to an admissions council?

The Answer

The truth is that there really is no single part of the application process that is more important than the others. In many cases, such as at MIT Sloan, the evaluation process includes both a written application as well as a face-to-face interview.

Throughout the process, an applicant is being evaluated on their academic ability, demonstrated impact on a group, organization or individual, and their ability to work well in a collaborative, team environment. We are assessing both capability and fit.

A few basic tips on the written application include:

Follow directions. If an essay has a word limit of 500 words, do not submit a 1,200 word essay.

Review for proper grammar and sentence structure and no typos.  You may want to ask someone who knows you well to review your essays.     

Tell a complete story across all of the components of the written application, including essays, cover letter, and resume. In advance, write down all of the things that are important to you to convey in the application and then map them to the various sections of the application.  

Do not contradict yourself – make sure information on the resume, such as roles and dates, are consistent with information in your essays.

Use the opportunities given to you wisely–do not repeat facts unnecessarily–but support them throughout.

Choose your referees wisely. Ask them early on in the process to give them enough time to write a meaningful recommendation. Select referees who are champions of your aspiration to attend business school, who know you well, and who can speak in detail to the contribution you have made to the organization. Do not choose a referee based on their title alone. If they do not know you well enough to write a meaningful recommendation, don't ask them.

With regard to the interview, which varies quite a bit from school to school, my best advice is to be yourself.

Keep the basics in mind, too. Be on time, dress appropriately, and be respectful to everyone you meet, including the person who checks you in, other interviewees, and students. 

Always be prepared, and understand the interview format in advance. Prior to the interview, review your application, and be armed with a few questions that are meaningful to you. Be careful not to ask questions that are readily answered on the school's website, or in their brochure. 

If you know who your interviewer is in advance, do a little research on their background. You may find a common interest or skillset that you can talk about during the interview. 

Avoid asking how you are doing, or how you did at the end, too.

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question


Next week, you'll have the chance to ask Rishabh Gupta, partner and co-founder at GyanOne Universal, an MBA admissions and career consultancy.

Rishabh has over a decade's experience helping applicants secure spots on their ideal programs, and has connections with schools including INSEAD, Yale, McCombs, Johnson Cornell, Duke, IMD, and ISB.

Prior to co-founding GyanOne, Rishabh worked at top consultancy firms including KPMG. 

Got a question you'd love Rishabh to answer?

To be in with a chance of featuring next week, submit your question on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages, or send us an email to info@businessbecause.com!