What does a nonprofit manager who graduated from Harvard Business School (HBS) in 2004 and studied ethics and leadership have in common with an investment banker applying to HBS in 2019 to study finance and global business? Virtually nothing.
At mbaMission, applicants often ask us if they should work with a consultant who earned their MBA from the same program they wish to attend, and our answer is always an emphatic No. Allow us to explain.
First, no two applicants, students, or graduates of a specific MBA program are alike. Every individual will have a different experience from that of their fellow MBAs because each one has a unique perspective, background, style, skill set, range of personal and professional goals, diversity of classmates, and so on. One person’s experience two decades ago will therefore be totally unlike someone else’s experience today. Simply having attended the same MBA program does not confer significant commonality.
Second, someone’s firsthand knowledge of an MBA program becomes increasingly remote the more time has passed since they graduated. Schools regularly shift their philosophies, update their curricula, add and remove offerings and resources, and yes, even revise how they evaluate and select applicants. Although someone who graduated from a specific school can often provide interesting insight into the MBA experience there by sharing stories of their time in the program, their ability to offer a current applicant meaningful insight into what the school is like today is limited.
Third, admissions consultants work with a single client on as many schools as that client wants to apply to, and candidates almost always target more than one school. Yet each consultant has attended only one institution, of course. Working with a graduate of every school an applicant is interested in would simply not be feasible.
Finally—and perhaps most importantly—the admissions committees do not make decisions about whether or not to accept an applicant based on how well that individual knows their school. Although illustrating one’s fit with a program is certainly important in the admissions process, what is more important is demonstrating one’s strengths, capacity for self-reflection, accomplishments, and character. The focus of an application should always be on the candidate, not the school.
So, when you are selecting the mbaMission Senior Consultant with whom you would like to collaborate on your applications, focus on identifying one you feel you can trust and open up to. Our job is to help you present the best version of yourself we can to the admissions committees, and how comfortable you feel with your consultant is therefore vastly more important than where that consultant went to business school.