Self-Awareness is Key to Your B-School Application

At the recent 2010 New York City Forum, hosted by MBADiversity and GradPrep, the admissions panel focused on the theme of self-awareness among B-school applicants. Caroline C. Wise, Vault’s senior education editor, attended the event and explains in a recent posting on Vault’s Admit One blog how knowing yourself–your abilities, goals and personal/professional interests–will help you craft the best application.

Kelly R. Wilson, assistant dean and director of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, participated on the event’s admissions panel and summed up the idea perfectly: “It’s very important to be yourself, but be your best self.”

But what if, like many applicants, you’ve got some areas of weakness in your education or professional background? “I can’t stress enough how much the issue of self-awareness comes up in our admissions committee meetings,” Wilson added, stating that everyone has something he or she can work on.

Once you’ve reviewed your application and experiences to identify any potential areas of concern, consider this advice offered by admissions representatives on how to address and overcome weaknesses when you’re applying to business school.

  • Kelly R. Wilson, McDonough School of Business: Show dedication to growth. If your undergrad GPA is not up to snuff, take courses in your weaker areas to demonstrate your current academic ability in that subject.
  • Frances Murphy, director of graduate admissions at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business: Ask the admissions office if you’re not sure how to tackle a weakness.  By advising the school of your concerns and dealing with it, you show your commitment to the MBA degree and to a particular school.
  • Suzanne Ashour, assistant director of recruiting at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business: Compensate for any potential weakness with demonstrated leadership and also passion””a critical quality that cannot be quantified.

B-school admission committees are made up of mere mortals who understand and empathize with applicants struggling to put their best foot forward. The important thing is not the weakness itself, but how you are working to overcome it that weighs most heavily in AdComs’ minds.

Nsombi B. Ricketts, director of the office of diversity and inclusion at Cornell University’s Johnson School, concurs, saying “Own whatever the weakness is and learn from it.”
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