An alum is going to get me in!
As MBA admissions consultants we frequently talk to MBA candidates that are confident that someone they know can get them into the business school of their choice. Their manager is an alum, their best friend is a 2nd year student, or their uncle has his name on one of the bricks in the courtyard of an MBA campus. The fact is there are very few people who can influence an MBA admissions committee to accept an entrant and most of these connections will result in nothing that will end up impacting the admissions decision. It is true that some schools allow students to add a note to an applicant’s file. This note will never swing an MBA application from a “no” to a “yes”, but could be helpful in getting a student off the waiting list or pushing someone over the hump if the admissions committee is on the fence. In any case, even if the dean is a close family friend and the new building is named after your uncle, you better develop the best application possible to ensure you get in.
So what are these “connections” worth? Are they helpful at all?
The answer is still yes and these connections should be leveraged as much as possible to get high-quality and specific inside information on the MBA program you are applying to. The “Why do you want to attend our MBA Program?” question is an element of every application and if you can demonstrate that you have done lots of research and really understand the offering and culture of a school it will give you an advantage. Most people simply scour a website and go to an information sessions. You should still do these things, but talking to an alum is a way to dig a level deeper into what a school is all about. If you talk to a number of alums you should say in essay “I have talked to a number of alums about their experience at __________ and hearing about _____________ truly excites me and will help me develop as a professional.“ It is important to call attention to this part of your school research – however, don’t name drop since most MBA admissions committees have no idea who an alum from 20 years ago even is.
Thanks for reading!