As many of you know, back in February we went in search of three MBA applicants to share their application experiences – the ups, the downs, the late nights clacking away on their laptops – right here on our Admissionado.com. We asked everyone to charm us, to sell us on why we should choose THEM. We figured, “Well gosh if these fine folks can sell us, maybe they’ll have something interesting to say along their own application journeys.”
And man oh man, the responses to our invitation poured in. Over 100+ of em—we were inundated, not unlike former Blackberry users with new smart phone options since 2009.
And honestly? Everyone damn near crushed it. Seriously, if this is the caliber of people applying to business school in 2014, the adcom is going to have to make some very difficult choices.
That process, friends, was ROUGH.
In the end, though, after passing everything through every consultant on our team (including founders Jon and Raj), three submissions stood out from the crowd. Upon reading them, we knew that we’d found our guys. Erm, and gals.
You’ll meet them officially on May 1st, but for now, we wanted to share their submissions, along with some notes on why we chose them: what they did to stand out, and why it resonated with us. The truth is, we found that there’s a lot for everyone to learn from them, things that’ll only help you as you embark on your own MBA application journey.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
Life is a race right? But what would you do if you were in a race with a billion people? Trust me; it’s difficult to stand out, let alone win the race. Unfortunately, I learned it the hard way after a disastrous first year of application.
[Admissionado: The intro was great. It hooked us immediately, and made us want to read more. Beyond that, we learned a lot about the applicant in the first two lines, AND he set the stage for the rest of his essay. We’re lovin’ it so far.]
A 720 GMAT (oh…with an 80/80 split), first class with distinction from one of the best colleges in India, close to 9 years of work experience (3 years international in 2 different countries), out-of-turn promotion, some awards, and some certifications: that would be my profile at a glance. Based on the profile review by consultants, including Admissionado, I have got most of the corners covered for a good applicant and yet- Duke, Ross, Cornell didn’t even bother to send me an invite for the interview.
[Admissionado: Let’s be honest folks, the statistics here are very good! But… not great. Not fabulous. A 720 is NOT top of the line for Indian applicants, and 9 years of work experience is…well, 5 years too many. And yet, while we’d never recommend laying out this type of resume-accessible information in an application essay, we also see that this dude IS qualified to get in. He’s got a strong profile. It’s just that… something went wrong. Homeboy didn’t get in. Why not? How can we make it right? Our interests are piqued, our appetites whetted…y’all get the idea.]
Well, while it’s obvious that I would want to get help from you, why should you pick me? If things change for me with the help from Admissionado, mine would be a big success story (after biting the dust in the first battle) and will provide good content for marketing as I have played Yoda for many during their GMAT journey, and with little help from you, I could be the next Yoda for many in application process as well.
[Admissionado: Yoda? You had Raj (our resident Star Wars guru) at “hello.” Beyond that, here the lad is explaining not only why he needs US, but also why we need HIM. And if that isn’t compelling, we don’t know what is.]
PS: Most cheesey way to stand out from the Indian applicant pool was to send-in the entry a few hours past the deadline. 😉
[Ha! Aaaand ending with a joke. He can poke fun at himself. We see his personality popping through. He’s more than just a profile – he’s a funny, likeable guy. He faces lots of challenges as an Indian applicant for sure—but well, he’s clearly up for the challenge as a reapplicant, and…so are we.]
99th percentile GMAT
Career-switcher from consulting / PE to tech
Did not graduate from an Indian tech school (which would make my marketing story just too perfect)
[Admissionado: Love it already—solid GMAT but not IIT. Sounds like a challenge…and we’re always up for a challenge.]
And now, what we’re all here for…my application in the form of an 8th grade Figurative Language lesson.
Simile: Business school is like jail: it’s two years without work and when you get out you have to tell every employer you went there.
[Admissionado: Bwahahaha. Love it. And you know what? Actually…we agree.]
Metaphor: I’m a rocketship streaking across the sky. The sky of professional accomplishment.
[Admissionado: It’s a cheesy metaphor but in fact, it is precisely what schools are looking for. As Jon Stewart says, Go Onnnnnnn…]
Alliteration: Some say specific schools sway students’ social selves, supplanting sobriety. Alternatively: Strike synergetic self-promoting symbioses…sellout.
Hyperbole: My b-school to do list is a million pages long and I haven’t even started!
[Admissionado: This submission was UNIQUE. I mean, who needs an actual essay? While most people wrote essays telling us about themselves, why they want an MBA and why they need our help, here homeboy swooped in with something completely different. BAM. We don’t know MUCH about him, but for this particular situation, we don’t care. He thought outside the box, and that fact alone made him memorable. Even 80 submissions later.]
About 2 years ago, a mentor of mine made it his mission to convince me of the merits of business school. “But I work in the education sector. I’m interested in social enterprise. Why would I want to earn an MBA? I’ll change the world with a Masters in Education, or maybe a law degree.” Don’t judge me – I was an idealistic 23-year-old with little understanding of what a management education actually entailed.
[Admissionado: Love it already. We know that Michelle’s not the only person with this pre-conception about bschool. So our Spidey Senses start tingling, maaaybe lots of other folks can learn from this girl…]
Fast forward a year – I’d been sent to the Bay Area for an assignment. During my trip, I was forced…erm… strongly encouraged to visit Stanford GSB.
Business school… Sure, I’d heard of it. It’s where all of the consultants and investments bankers go. They hang out with each other and talk about finance. I call that a bro-fest.
[Admissionado: Ha! Indeed, indeed. Homegirl made us laugh. For our money, “bro-fest” is inherently funny.]
Anyway, I happened to meet a member of [REDACTED] Student Association, also from my hometown, who was interested in education reform (I decided we must have be twins separated at birth). We bonded; I lost some of my naiveté about b-school, ultimately realized that I would have to tell my mentor that he was right, and this crazy, hectic journey in pursuit of an MBA began.
[Admissionado: So… what happens next? That’s what we wanted to know when we finished reading this submission. The writer drew us into her story with a clever mix of humor, naiveté, and actual lessons learned. Not too shabby for a couple hundred word essay. We got to know her, understand her, and see her vision for her future. And when it suddenly…ended, we’re drawn in. Connected. Emotionally involved. So now, we want to know (and be a part of) what comes next. ]
So, there you have it. Hopefully there’s something here that will stick with you as you start writing those application essays. At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is to be memorable, be specific and show the adcom who you are as a person (and not just a profile!)
Oh, and check back here on May 1st as we officially introduce our 2014 MBA application bloggers, then follow them throughout their admissions journey every other week until they hit “submit” in Round 1.