Parents’ Role in MBA Admissions

parents role in MBA admissions

Are Mom and Dad actively involved in your b-school application process?  It might be time to rethink your parents’ role in MBA admissions. The admissions committee wants to see applicants with demonstrated leadership and maturity. That’s hard to convey with parents chiming in at every step along the way.

No doubt, so-called “helicopter parents” have the best intentions. Yet, their interference could torpedo their child’s chance of getting into a top business school.  This holds true even if parents are helping to foot the bill, which is more and more often the case.

Business schools welcome parents when they come to visit their enrolled students.  And they tolerate those who join their children on a general admissions tour. Universities expect heavy parental involvement in the undergraduate admissions process. Not for the MBA. The admissions team expects to see independent, fully formed professionals. Excessive parental involvement raises a red flag about the candidate’s potential for success in the program.

What’s the right level of parental involvement?

So, what level of parental involvement is appropriate? It’s fine for parents to get in touch with SBC for information about how admissions consulting works. They can also chip in or cover the costs of consulting. If requested, parents can also provide insight or act as a sounding board for their children’s essays.

When parents’ role in MBA admissions goes awry.

Parents should not attempt to guide the process themselves, however. We’ve had parents ask for conference calls to discuss their child’s issues—without the applicant on the phone. We’ve also known cases of parents impersonating their child when contacting the school admissions office with questions about financial aid, application status and more. If discovered, this deception will cause irreparable damage to the applicant’s candidacy.

The truth is, parents may know their children very well in a certain light. But they might not know how to reveal the aspects of their child that will  appeal to business schools.

Many parents have almost derailed the process by tearing apart MBA essays that we’ve already determined are good to go. When that happens, we wonder why they paid for expert consulting in the first place.

Parents just want to help. We get it.

Of course parents want to protect their children from failure or disappointment. They can serve their children’s needs better by cheering from the sidelines. Or offering moral support if a setback or ding does occur.

Even if they still rely on Mom and Dad for advice and financial support, graduate-level students are adults. They are expected to be capable of making independent, adult decisions. If you’re the student in this scenario, make sure you set limits with your parents’ involvement. You don’t want to create a poor impression of your decision-making capacities.

And parents: Trust that your child is responsible enough to make the right decisions for his or her future.

A version of this post originally appeared on Stacy’s MBA admissions blog for US News and World Report.

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