While writing my essay and filling out my application forms I was wondering about things which leading schools want in an applicant. From my one year long pursuit of the elusive admit from Top B- School I have been trying to create a check list of items which schools want and recently I was able to prepare a 10 points list based on my understanding. This check list will serve the purpose of the applicants as to what they have to include in their application, moreover this check list will also help the applicants gauge their chance in the b-schools of their choices. I agree some these are very generic and might not apply to all schools but in my view a sizable amount of schools look for these. So here goes the list
1. You have been successful in your profession and/or life. For ex- you have won awards and ratings which prove that you are among the top 5-10% of your peer group.
2. You are able to achieve success in not only at the individual level but also at the group level or as they say in ‘Teams’. You have to balance this with the first point, on the basis school you are applying to. If your schools give more importance to team work then team point becomes critical.
3. You have to show growth in professional career or at least periodic positive changes in your career with logical direction. A rate of a change of one step in 1 to 1.5 years is decent.
4. You have decent numbers under your belt or have proven academic record. Like your GMAT is at least in the vicinity (+/- 20 ) of the median of your school and your GPA is either at the mean of the school or in top 20% of your alma mater. This point might not be very applicable to poets (non-traditional) applicants out there.
5. You have a clear cut plan for your future. When I say clear cut I don’t expect that you have the clear idea what you want to do but instead you know what you want from your program you have more or less decided which area /specialization you want to do.
6. With respect to above point, you also have taken steps to reach your goal. What I mean is that if you want to go into marketing you are either already have experience in that field or you have taken steps to make the transition. You are not dependent on MBA to reach there.
7. You have some humane angle to your application as well . What I mean by humane angle is that you are not a glory hounding number crunching workaholic geek but have some soft aspect of your personality as well. This has to be nicely balanced with the first point. You have to show that your achievement are worthy of you to be a workaholic but you have managed to achieve something in other spheres of your life.
8. You have led or are already leading people/initiative etc. For Ex. You have led teams (Very common) or you have been a catalyst of change at some place.
9. You have awards, recommendation to corroborate the above points. Moreover, you are able to mention all of them in your essay and resume.
10. On top of all this if you can show some uniqueness like knowing multiple languages or having a skill for a painting or public speaking etc. That will be great.
Now you have to represent all this points in your application. It will be a pity if you have any of these points and it is not represented in your application. To represent all this, the instruments in decreasing order are Essays, Resume, Recommendation and application.
Usually recommendations and supplementary application materials should be used to prove the claims made in essay and in resume.
If you can say strongly YES to at least 9 points in the above list be assured of at least an interview and strong applicant to the school. 7 YES’s will give you a decent shot if you are really able to write compelling essay’s. Speaking of essays even a 10 YES will require you to write good essay otherwise you will not be able to put all these points in the 2000 odd word limit.
Any comments/additions/deletion welcome