Recently, we spoke to MBA admissions expert Walter Hutchison (founder of ApplicationAdvantage.com and MBAdashboard.com) about the top 5 MBA admissions myths (if you missed that post, check it out here). This week, Walter digs into two pervasive MBA admissions myths specific to the 2010-11 application season.
Here are the biggest myths flying around this year:
1) The total volume of MBA applications began trending slightly lower in 2009-2010, so my odds of admission will go up.
Not entirely true. Competition, especially at the top schools, is always going to be fierce. The total number of application may also be less relevant depending on the admission demographic you represent. For instance, a negligible improvement in the absolute odds of admission is not going to outweigh the relatively high level of competition among applicants from South Asia, East Asia, Europe and the US. Moreover, you cannot make the assumption that the quality of the applicant pool will decline in line with the declining numbers of applications. Every year, the competitive standards at top schools tend to increase regardless of fluctuations in applicant pool size.
There’s another limitation to gaming applicant pool sizes: not even admissions committee members or officers know ahead of time exactly how many people will apply. So the hyper-accurate statistical information you would need in order to assess your chances in the season that you are applying, will ironically not become available until long AFTER you and every other candidate have submitted your applications. The most you would be able to do is make estimates based on historical trends and hope that there are not too many anomalies in your target season.
That’s why the best approach when deciding to apply, is to make certain that you never take anything for granted. Put in your best effort no matter what you think some survey’s results are telling you.
2) Since my company and career suffered a market-driven setback, top schools will think less of my applications.
False. Admissions committees are human and they are not going to hold you accountable for factors beyond your control. What committees will be interested in, though, is how you respond to this or any setback. What steps have you taken to make positive adjustments to your career trajectory? How have you applied your skills cross-functionally or to another area where your experience has become an asset? If you have more time available to you, how constructively have you used it? Your responses to all these types of questions can easily help you turn any perceived disadvantage into advantage. Approach your application with the same vigor and optimism as you would in better economic times. If your goals, rationale and potential for leadership are well-articulated, then there is every reason to believe that you will be a serious candidate for admission at the very top business schools.
Walter Hutchinson is the founder of ApplicationAdvantage.com, the boutique international admissions advisory, and also founder of MBAdashboard.com, the admissions supersite powered by proprietary technology tools designed specifically for global business school applicants. Walter holds degrees from Columbia University and has lived in North America, Asia and Europe while advising professionals and students representing more than 20 countries.