When it Comes to Applications, Don’t Leave ‘Em Guessing

Competition for a place in a top-ranked MBA program is fierce, so applicants should heed this advice from Patricia Harrison, associate director of admissions at Tuck School of Business: never leave AdCom guessing about any part of your application or employment history.

Take for example the applicant who has a gap in his or her employment history; given the current economy, many prospective students may have that issue. But if the gap is not addressed somewhere in the application, says Harrison, “We don’t know if the applicant is doing something amazing or if they are sitting on the sofa watching soap operas. Moral of the story: never make us guess about anything, because we may guess wrong.”

The same advice goes for anyone hesitating to ask a current supervisor for a recommendation letter. If the reason is a valid fear that such a request might jeopardize his or her employment, then by all means convey that reason to admissions. Because if you don’t, Harrison says, “We are left with the equally realistic assumption that you don’t have a good working relationship with your supervisor.”

Career-changers, take note: just because you have been thinking about your new professional path for some time, don’t assume admissions will immediately grasp the reasons for the change. Explain, explain, explain.

Don’t be afraid to use the optional essay to thoroughly address all relevant aspects of your candidacy—that’s what it’s there for. “Remember, we don’t know you beyond what you put on paper,” Harrison says.

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