The Tuesday Q&A: Explaining “Fit” in an MBA Application

QUESTION:

I also have a question about “fit.” When asked about “why this school” in an essay, what is the best way to answer? If I say about the name of the course and the name of the professor who teaches the course I like, would that be enough? How deep should I dig?

ANSWER:

Here’s the thing about explaining your fit at a school: it’s important. And one big mistake LOTS of applicants make is not digging deep enough. So, kudos to you for asking the right questions and being on the right track.

If I had a cookie, I’d give it to you 🙂

For the rest of you, I’m gonna say it again: explaining your fit at a school is verrrry important. Applying to business school is like dating. Sorta. (Just stay with me here… I’m going to make this happen.) When you’re trying to woo a partner, you have to make that person believe that you two are right for one another. And you need to show them the specific reasons why you should be together, and not with some other random people walking down the street.

You’re not gonna try to win that person over with “you’re standing there and I’m standing here, therefore we should be together.” That’s not going to work. Where’s the romance in that? And who ever fell for THAT line? Nope, you need a different approach. You need to get specific: talk about your common interests, your common goals… all the reasons you just fit perfectly together.

See where I’m going here?

You have to do the same thing with your b-school applications. You need to woo the adcom. You need to make him or her believe that you want this school over every other school. You need to show him or her why.  And you need to be very specific.

So, yes, mentioning a professor you’d like to study with is a great idea. And talking about some specific classes or student groups that you’d like to take advantage of is smart. Commenting on the school’s culture and how it aligns with your own beliefs/feelings/goals is also good. As is bringing up specific companies that recruit heavily at that specific program.

The more specific you get when talking about your fit, the better. At the end of the day, you want that adcom to read your application and KNOW that there is no better school for you than that one.

And sure, your fit may change from school to school. You may tell Wharton why you’ll flourish in a HUGE class, and then tell Tuck why you want the community focus of a smaller program. Doesn’t matter. When that Wharton guy is reading your essay, he needs to believe you’ll excel there. And then that Tuck guy is sitting down and digging into your app, he’ll need to believe the same thing.

So do your research, visit those campuses and find out what aspect of each SPECIFIC program fits you best and the SPECIFIC reasons why.

Hope that helps.

— Jon Frank

 

The Tuesday Q&A: Why Should I Choose HBS over Stanford GSB?