Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
We find that because the pool of MBA candidates is so anonymous, many applicants believe that any minimal difference that exists between them and their fellow candidates represents a huge disadvantage. For example, a candidate may have no alumni connection to the school and therefore becomes anxious that he/she is already “behind” at the starting line. We can assure you that if you are a strong candidate, you will not be “dinged” by a school if you don’t know any of the program’s alumni. In fact, the vast majority of candidates will not have direct connections to alumni from their target schools.
The bottom line is that in some cases, if you know a powerful alumnus or alumna, he or she can likely help you in your candidacy. However, the standout candidate without an alumni connection will generally still succeed, and the weak candidate with the alumni connection will still fail. So focus on crafting your best application possible, and do not worry about minor perceived weaknesses. You can succeed on your own, regardless of whom you know—or don’t know.