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 his/her target school and will therefore become 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 with alumni from their target schools.
The bottom line is that in some cases, if you know a powerful alumnus or alumna, he or she may be able to help you in your candidacy. However, a standout candidate who does not have such an alumni connection will generally still succeed, and a weak candidate with an alumni connection will likely 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 who you know—or don’t know.