Getting B-school Application Reviewed by Alumni: Avoid These Mistakes

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Few months back, I received an application for feedback from an applicant who, despite having a solid academic and professional profile, didn’t get interview calls from both the schools he applied to in the first round.

There were few glaring oversights in his essays, which largely explained the disappointing result he had. What was different in this case, though, was that his application was vetted by a friend and current B-school student (one and the same person). Yet, those mistakes slipped through the crack.

Possible reason?

With all the classes, projects, networking events, recruitment, exams, socialization, and extracurricular activities, current MBA students would be at their wit’s end, with little spare time for offering advice and reviewing your essays. And some may even have family commitments.

Graduates too would be caught up in the fast-paced corporate life, extent depending on the industry and role they are in.

And add to that multiple applications from you and, possibly, from other friends too. Lot of additional work, indeed.

Therefore, if you want to get the best out for your application, you need to respect their time and be strategic about what exactly you want from them. Ideally:

1. Seek their help where they can add maximum value: shortlisting schools, addressing weaknesses in your profile, understanding B-school culture and your fit, brainstorming for examples from your profile that can be used in essays and recommendations, and the best practices in handling different parts of the application. This is where they’ll add maximum value, and not in editing line by line. (Their involvement, of course, will also depend on the strength of your relationship with them.) Moreover, this part can be done mainly through discussion and, therefore, will be relatively less taxing on them.

However, before those important calls with them, do your homework well in order to make the most out of it.

2. Send them a good first draft. It’ll save their time, and they’ll be able to focus on matters which are truly important. Lousy first drafts for multiple schools along with multiple calls and other tidbits such as resume can drive them over the edge.

And the most dangerous part: if you’re too pushy, they may not explicitly say no to you because of your relationship with them, but the quality of review may suffer, and mistakes may slip through, as happened with the applicant who got two dings-without-interview in the first round.

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