There is a lot of advice out there about crafting your story. Many experts – myself included – urge candidates to be transparent and to tell the committee what really matters to them. While I absolutely believe that this is the most ethical and advantageous strategy, it can be hard for applicants to understand how to apply this advice. Here are three things that you should never tell the MBA admissions committee.

  • I hate my boss. And my colleagues.

Let’s face it, you aren’t going to get along with everyone. Also, sometimes you really do have an evil boss and difficult colleagues. However, the admissions committee doesn’t know you, so they are not in a position to judge whether or not you are the source of the conflict. Furthermore, being able to function on a team is extremely important in business school and in the professional world, and admissions officers are trained to be cautious about candidates who may not function well in groups.

  • I have absolutely no idea what I want to do after I graduate.

Admissions committees are very averse to admitting candidates who lack career focus. Even if you wind up changing your mind and pursuing something completely different after you get to school, please articulate a plausible set of post-MBA goals. Schools need to know that your plans are realistic, that they can help you find a job, and that you will be able to hit the ground running when recruiting starts. When deciding between two comparable candidates, they will admit the person with tangible goals over the one who says that they will figure it out during school.

  • I am applying to your school because it is highly ranked.

In order to get in, especially to highly selective schools, it is absolutely crucial for you to demonstrate a specific affinity for the program. You need to explain why the curriculum and culture are especially aligned with your goals and personality. It is also important to talk about how you will contribute to the community. Take the time to research your target schools, so that you can convey genuine interest, and explain how you will be an asset.

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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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