Tuesday Q&A: Too Successful for B-School?

Question:

Can you be so successful (in your essays) that a B-school won’t believe you need them? Is it possible, even, to be too successful for B-school?

Answer:

Not possible, really. At least, we’ve never heard of this happening, and we’ve read a LOT of essays. On the contrary, more often, we see folks sell themselves waaay short in their essays because they don’t want to brag, or they don’t know how to mine the gold nuggets from their mountains of experience. EVERY experience has something meaningful in there, whether it was a challenge you overcame, something that made you grow, or some success achieved. So never bypass ANY opportunity to showcase your awesomeness.

From the viewpoint of the AdCom, the more successful candidates are the ones who will later bring in prestige and money. They are the ones who are gonna continue on their already successful path and make a ton of money and then turn around and say, “You know what? I owe a lot to my b-school, and I wanna give them a big ol’ chunk of cash so they can keep helping bright eyed self-starters like me achieve their dreams.” Too successful for an AdCom? Not a chance.

You DO want to be careful and walk that fine line between showcasing your strengths and achievements VS. bragging. You don’t want to be all “look how great I am” or even worse, “I’m so much better than everyone else.” So don’t underplay your greatness, but a little humility about it goes along way. As in, give a nod to the people who have helped you along the way; acknowledge teachers and mentors and coworkers who you’ve depended on and learned from. That stuff just makes you relatable.

Now, you might be so old or experienced that an adcom may think you don’t need them—but even if you’re quite a bit older than the average age, it’s not impossible if you make a convincing argument. But too successful? Nah.

What it comes down to in your essays is showing what you have to offer while proving why you need the MBA. If you’re coming across as “too successful” that means you’re not making a smart case as to WHY you need the MBA. So “you’re doing it wrong.”

Jon Frank, Admissionado Founder

Tuesday Q&A: How to Pick the Best Essay Topic to Show Success?