MBA Advice From Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School and Tuck School of Business

Whether you’re diving into the application process full-throttle, or just starting to test the waters, good advice is always welcome. Today’s tips come courtesy of the Career Insider blog at Bucknell University, which posted a comprehensive entry yesterday with pointers on the MBA application process supplied by panelists representing Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School and Tuck School of Business.

Here are some edited excerpts of the advice culled by Bucknell’s Jamie Leacock ’11; click on the link above for the original entry, which also covers selecting recommenders, taking the GMAT, the admissions process and what a typical schedule looks like during an MBA program.

What are MBA graduate programs looking for?

One myth surrounding the MBA admissions process is that applicants are accepted based on their credentials (e.g., what undergraduate school they attended, an internship they completed). However, schools are not looking for what you have done; they are looking for why you have done it and how well you did it!

The panelists urge prospective students to be able to explain the choices they made and why they excelled. Talking about the quality of your experience and why it was right for you is a surefire way to exude individuality. The best job is not what you think schools are looking for; it is what you are passionate about.

What qualities do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

When reviewing applications, the panel asserts that admissions officers are thinking about the long-term ”“ what kind of alumni are you going to be?

One panelist who has worked at Bucknell, Tuck Business School, and Wharton says he seeks the following when making decisions: applicant’s integrity, their risk-taking ability, their leadership as expressed in the context of their own life, and (his highest weighted criteria) their initiative.

One way to demonstrate these characteristics during an interview is by using the mirror technique. When asked to tell about a leadership experience, after answering, re-frame the question and ask the interviewer about opportunities for leadership at that school. Utilizing these tips can certainly be beneficial to your application process.

Should I re-apply if I don’t get in the first time?

One panelist said 10% of Wharton Business School applicants were re-applying. He advises re-applicants to be very careful not to look like the main goal is to get into that particular school. At schools where the application can be re-activated, he was very impressed when applicants started over, treating the re-application process as a blank state instead of reusing old essays. It can be a good idea to paint a new self-portrait of yourself based on the new experiences you gained during the past year.

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