What will it take to make me stand out as an applicant?

Dec 5, 2011
Tags: Admissions Committees, Admissions Process, Admissions Requirements, Applications, GMAT, MBA, Recommendations, School Selection

Shrim Bathey, Associate Director of MBA Recruitment and Admission, Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business, Mills College

Each contact point that you have with a school is an opportunity to stand out or be remembered. But beware – you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Be Authentic.

The first and most important rule is to be authentic! Whether you are writing your application essay or interviewing with a member of the admission committee, make your words represent who you are and who you want to be. Too many students make the mistake of magnifying an extraneous aspect of themselves because they are reaching for a way to show that they are different – or that they fit in. Acknowledge both your strengths and your non-talents, and use that to demonstrate your readiness for an MBA. Authenticity shows that you have a certain level of self awareness, which is an important quality for strong leadership.

Know the Program. 

The first thing I ask prospective students is ‘Why do you want an MBA?” and I expect a clear and focused answer. The second thing I ask is “Why do you want an MBA from Mills?” Research your schools so that you can articulate why your professional goals are aligned with what that specific B-School can offer you. Why is a socially responsible, sustainable, or global MBA important to you? If you know somebody who attended the program, it is acceptable to mention that, but be sure to discuss the relevance of that connection. Pay close attention to detail here, particularly in your essays. The last thing you want to do is write a detailed essay about one program, and submit it to a different school! 

Meet the Committee. 

You have numerous opportunities to meet members of the admission committee at MBA fairs, on-campus admission events, informational interviews, through social media, and via email and phone. These contacts allow admission staff to put a personality to your name, learn about your interests, and get an idea of your fit for our program.  At a small school like Mills, for example, you will meet the same admission staff at each event and have the opportunity to develop a relationship with us prior to your application review. Most schools view such contacts as a heightened level of interest in the program as well. Be careful not to over contact an admission department in an effort to stand out. Remember the rule above and make sure your queries are authentic! 

Good luck!