For most people, the weeks before and after the new year are a time of merriment and a full calendar of socializing with family and friends. However, for Round 2 MBA applicants, this is likely “crunch time” as deadlines in early January loom.
Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean and director of admissions at the Yale School of Management, offers these tips for candidates hoping to put their best foot forward. His general advice addresses the importance of presenting yourself in a genuine way, rather than trying to package yourself as whatever mold you might imagine the admissions department is looking for. “Many applicants get tripped up trying to get inside our heads,” he says. “Don’t out-think yourself. Tell us about what you care about, not what you think we want to hear.”
Earlier this month on the Chicago Booth School of Business‘s MBA blog, associate dean Kurt Ahlm echoed a similar sentiment when he criticized some applicants’ tendency to focus on being remembered rather than authentic. By crafting an application that accurately reflects your past, aspirations and personality, you’ll naturally stand out. At the same time though, Ahlm reminds aspirants to not hold back when it comes to sharing details that will help the school understand your path and how you’ll contribute to the Booth community.
Meanwhile, Yale’s DelMonico urges applicants to be up front about their weaknesses. “Everyone has weaknesses,” he stresses. “We’ll see them, so you’re better off acknowledging them and incorporating them into your application than hoping we’ll miss them.” Make sure though that you don’t make the rookie mistake of trying to pass off being a perfectionist, or a workaholic, as your principal fault!
For Booth applicants still struggling with their essays, Ahlm advises spending a few weeks in self-reflection and doing some deeper thinking before sitting down to hammer out those answers. While acknowledging the fact that great essays can come in many forms, he says all have at least three elements in common:
Spark – what gets you up in the morning? What do you love? How do you want to change? What motivates you in your career?
Clear goals – try not to speak in generic statements and maybes. Make sure your goals make sense and are achievable. Do you understand the industry you are striving to work in? Have done your research?
Fit – you have to know where Booth can fill in the gaps for you and what you can’t get anywhere else.
Yale SOM applicants who have already completed a first or second draft of their essays should take these next few weeks to proofread and polish to ensure that they are hitting all crucial points, advises DelMonico, who suggests asking a trusted friend or family member for feedback from a fresh pair of eyes.
Finally, both DelMonico and Ahlm recommend MBA hopefuls attend one of the informal social events over the holidays to further forge a connection with the b-school community you’re targeting. The various Yale Winter Break Socials and Chicago Booth Student-Hosted Winter Events around the globe are a great way to hear first-hand about the MBA experience and can only help you cement your decision of why your school of choice is the right fit for you.