After applying to business school three times in a row, it’s easy to look back and see where I made some big mistakes.
Quite simply, I truly didn’t understand the admission process. I didn’t see the business school as my customer and that in order to make my applications worthwhile, I needed to exceed their expectations. Like any business, don’t you want to make the customer happy?
If I didn’t comprehend what they were looking for in the first place, how on earth was I really going to stand out? It wasn’t long before I realized that there is a pattern in business school admissions; if you can identify it early on in the process, the overall picture becomes clear. Very clear.
During a few of my school visits (Stanford GSB, HBS, Wharton), I noticed most of the information sessions usually had an alum or two giving a keynote speech. The alum spent time talking about his or her experience, how their business school helped them get to where they are now, and how they evovled over time.
Nothing too exciting.
But it was at these events that a particular question really hit me hard:
Why are certain business schools so distinguished?
What makes top 10 schools top 10 schools?
Was it the facilites? instruction? career placement post grad? professors?
It became clear at these information sessions that business schools shine because of one reason: their alumni.
Think about it.
What would Stanford GSB be without alums like Phil Knight, CEO of Nike? (GSB ’62). What about HBS without Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay? (HBS ’79) Or what about Lewis Platt, CEO of Boeing? (Wharton ’66).
Point blank, an MBA program is driven by many things but it’s brand and prestige are created by the success and fame of its alums.
Every year, Stanford GSB enrolls about 380 students into its first year class. These incoming students are a wishing well of hope that one day they’re going to be outstanding leaders in their field. Top business schools are looking for the next Joe Coulombe, founder of Trader Joe’s (Stanford GSB ’54) or Anne Moore, CEO of Time (HBS ’78). These folks have worked their entire lives demonstrating high quality achievement and make it to the top, giving top MBA programs the recognition I’m talking about.
You don’t nee to have the CEO dream for schools to believe in you, but I am trying to show you that business schools are looking for applicants that have that ‘UMPH’ to become the next huge leader in their field and that will make their alma mater happy one day.
So what’s the big deal?
Your goal, aside everything else, should be to show admission committees that you can become the next big……….
Well, I’ll leave that up to you. But whatever you’re conjuring up, it better be big. You’re dreaming now aren’t you? Why not go big?