Business school applications are hard enough – why complicate the process more than you need to? Plus, if any of these strategies sound familiar you may actually be hurting your chances of admission.

  • Different brands for each school.

Please don’t modify your core candidacy in order to align with what you think each school is looking for. Figure out the most powerful way to synthesize your goals, interests, strengths and personality into a coherent “brand” and stick with it. (So, don’t tell Kellogg that you want to be a brand manager and Wharton that you are all about finance. It won’t work, and telling schools what you think they want to hear, instead of the real answer, will backfire.)

  • Using multiple recommenders.

Soliciting recommendations is a big request, and I absolutely suggest choosing wisely and supporting the people who are endorsing you. However, many schools now use a common form and others ask for the same basic information. Since “How does Susie handle pressure?” and “How does Susie handle stress?” are largely the same question, it may not be as much work as you think. It is, however, a logistical morass to wrangle multiple recommenders – so please do yourself a favor and stick with the same 2 for all of your schools.

  • Waiting until you are done with your GMAT to start your essays.

I have written about this mistake before, but it is so common that it bears repeating. Even if you are still working on your test, you need to create a calendar that allocates some time to the essays. The balance and schedule will vary for each person, but it NEVER works well to take your GMAT 10 days before the application is due and then start on the “rest of your application.” Making sure that your voice comes through is crucial, and the essays, application form itself, resume, interview prep, etc. usually take longer than you think.

The good news? You can easily streamline your business school application process and optimize your results by avoiding these mistakes.

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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $70 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 98% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.
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