Mission Admission: What Type of Candidate Are B-Schools Seeking?

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

One of the most common questions we hear from business school applicants is “What type of candidate does [Harvard/Stanford/Wharton/Chicago Booth/etc.] want?” Of course, the answer to that question is that schools do not want just one type of applicant. Instead, each MBA program is striving to assemble a remarkably diverse class and thus wants to be able to identify distinct qualities in each candidate.

Although simplifying a school’s approach to admissions (e.g., “Kellogg wants team players”) can be appealing, avoid trying to fit into some perceived mold—doing so will only mask your true distinct qualities and strengths. Rather than pandering to a stereotype with regard to your personal/professional experiences or changing your stated goals to match an imagined bias on the part of an MBA admissions committee, you should spend a great deal of time brainstorming to best understand how you can showcase your unique traits. By demonstrating that you offer something different from other candidates, you have the greatest chance of succeeding.

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