It should come as no surprise that MBA applications must stand out. Every year, we hear post-mortem from applicants who applied on their own with 750+ GMAT scores, high GPAs and leading employers on their resumes who were rejected from their target schools on their first attempt.

There is generally one reason for this – their applications did not stand out!


Nearly every top business school could fill their classes with former investment bankers and consultants from top undergraduate schools. However, MBA students learn almost as much (if not more) from their classmates as they do from their professors. Therefore, top business schools need well-rounded classes filled with candidates across demographics, industries and backgrounds.

Applying as a consultant from a top firm with a 780 GMAT alone will not secure an acceptance. Schools can only take so many of these applicants in each class.

Depending on your perspective, this is either good or bad news!

For those of you with such a profile, you still have your work cut out for you. Your application must show how you have performed better than your peers, how you will add a unique point of view to class discussions or how you plan to make your distinctive mark after graduation.  

Your application should show what you have accomplished above and beyond expectations. Professionally, think about projects where you have gone the extra mile and/or added an innovative point of view. Similarly, your career aspirations should be more explicit than returning to a specific industry or function. They should discuss a distinct area of focus or a new perspective you hope to bring to an issue or field. For example, if you plan to return to consulting, add some details on where you hope to focus. If you hope to become a CFO, tell the reader what your management philosophy might be. Of course, no one will hold you to these goals, but you need to think about how you will stand out. After all, this will be just as important as you begin the post-MBA recruiting process.

Conversely, this presents an opportunity for those of you that do not fit the mythical mold.

For example, if your GPA is less than ideal, be sure that you call out other evidence of your analytical abilities or other academic successes. Perhaps you have been a top performer at work or have taken classes since graduation. These are some options for showing that you have the potential to handle the academic rigor of an MBA program.  

For applicants coming from less traditional careers, be sure that your essays, resumes and LORs highlight both unique and transferable skills. Whether you are an artist or a scientist, many of the same skills are essential for success. Show how you have stood out as a leader and how you have leveraged analytical and/or out-of-the-box thinking in these roles.

Finally, regardless of your background, be sure to cover multiple aspects of your profile; unique skills, hobbies, extra-curricular leadership roles, volunteer work and language skills will all work together to paint a picture for admissions committee members of who you are and what unique value you have to add.


As a boutique MBA admissions consulting and tutoring company, we help every candidate tell his or her unique story. Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for 11 years with a 96% success rate. We also conduct mock interviews with our team of former top 10 MBA interviewers. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!

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