Admissions Myths Destroyed: But the Guy Beside Me is Applying

mbaMission hosts a weekly blog series, “Admissions Myths Destroyed,” for our friends at Beat the GMAT. Check out the BTG site for fresh material and ours for “reprints.” The following piece was penned by mbaMission Founder, Jeremy Shinewald:

You look around your office and think to yourself: “I wish he were not applying to the same school as I am. They can’t take two people who sit at the same desk. Also, his GPA is .15 higher.” On the surface, this reasoning seems logical and it can thus be the cause of anxiety for some candidates, especially those who are in positions where an MBA is virtually a must to move forward (consulting, banking).

However, not to worry, there are two significant flaws in this thinking:

1. You are not the same candidate as the person at the desk beside you.He may have similar work experience, but, you have had different interactions with team members and clients and have worked on different projects. So, you have different perspectives on your experiences and so do your recommenders. Furthermore, your work experience is only one piece of the puzzle that is your application. Even if he does have a slightly higher GPA or GMAT, you are still quite different in terms of your personal/life experiences, community/leadership activities, ability to perform during interviews and more. Instead of worrying that the AdCom will make an apples to apples comparison and cast you out, you need to focus on what makes you distinct and present your best self.

2. There is room at top schools for two great candidates.When we asked HBS’s Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Dee Leopold, whether she would accept two candidates who had worked on the same desk, she quipped, “We have room for Larry and Sergei (referencing the two founders of Google).”  An mbaMission Senior Consultant, recalled that when she was at HBS, she had two classmates who worked on the same desk at the same private equity firm. At HBS, they ended up in the same section.  Top MBA programs don’t have quotas for certain firms, towns, ethnicities, etc. They just want the best candidates out there.

So, in short, as you eye that individual across the desk, try to avoid simplified comparisons. Focus on that which makes you distinct and expect that the admissions committees will not fulfill quotas, but identify talent.

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