Monday, August 22, 2011

Insider's Perspective of an MBA Friend

As it's back to school time for most MBA programs, talented prospective applicants have been seeking advice from my business school classmates and I on applying.

Without knowing a friend or two enrolled at a top MBA program, it's challenging to identify all the resources that some better-informed are aware of. While occasionally downplayed in its use for self-perception, these resources are what I would share with you if you turned to me as a friend.

Apart from your GMAT/GPA stats, your MBA application can be distilled into three distinct areas you control:

I. Experiences:
I've gifted this recently published book, The MBA Reality Check: Make the School You Want, Want You, to friends seeking to best position their profiles and experiences into their applicancy, short and long-term goals included. As of this blog post, all 13 reviews are rated 5 of 5.

II. Written Application:
a. Essay/Recommendations/Application:
Find a trusted friend - possibly one in business school - to help proofread your essay and offer a counter-opinion. Yet, as friends and family are often all too eager to offer an opinion, don't share your essay with too many readers for risk of losing your distinct voice and internal compass on where to head. I found my own sister the most brutally honest with me, and she became the only person to proofread my essays.

b. School visit:
Make an effort to visit business schools before you write your essays. In writing about why you want to attend program X, there's no greater substitute for genuine interest in attending a program than if you invested time into witnessing a class, speaking with a student group, etc. This would also crystallize why you may want to attend one program over the other, helping prioritize your application submissions.

III. Verbal Interview:
Talented candidates on paper may be invited to top-tier schools for interviews, yet a bottleneck for admissions can be the interview itself. You are competing against applicants who may have prepared by seeking the counsel of family and friends, bulleted out their responses, and crystallized their answers. MBA mock interview services such videos of benchmark interviews, and InterviewBay and's mock interview services may be worth exploring.

This is the first in a series of blog posts to level access to information and opportunities for prospective MBA students. What topics would you like explored further? Please comment, and I'll respond in-line or via a future post. All the best!

Tiffany Kosolcharoen, Forté Fellow
Class of 2013, MIT Sloan School of Management

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