Common Mistakes to Avoid on an MBA Application

Even with a great GMAT score, glowing recommendations from corporate higher-ups, and extensive work experience, there’s still more to consider when getting ready for business school. A well-qualified applicant may not be approved automatically, and how they craft their applications really matters. Here, readers will learn which mistakes to avoid when creating an MBA application.

Taking a Cookie-Cutter Approach

Writing one boilerplate essay to submit to every school isn’t just boring; it’s ineffective. Aside from increasing the chances of obvious mistakes—like putting the wrong school’s name in the essay—this approach also makes it difficult for an applicant to show why they’re a good fit for the school’s MBA program.

Every business school has its own personality and preferences and adding specific points about how they fit those requirements will help an applicant score points with the admissions counselor. Not only will it prove they’re suitable, but it will also show that they’re motivated enough to do the work.

Living in the Past

Though it’s important to list accomplishments, that’s only part of the picture. MBA admissions counselors would much rather see an applicant’s plan for how that experience will be used. How will the applicant contribute to the school? How will they apply the skills they learn to advance their career? The answers to these and other questions will largely determine the success of an MBA school application.

Failing to Follow Directions

It’s surprising how many MBA applicants make this mistake. It’s easy to answer questions that weren’t asked, ignore questions that were asked, and generally fail to follow guidelines. This is a sure way to send an application to the bottom of the reject pile, but it’s also the easiest mistake to avoid. When writing an entrance essay, for instance, be sure to respond directly to the writing prompt. In many cases, there’s room at the end of the application to provide additional information. Use that space to clarify important, yet unrelated topics.


An MBA school application is a student’s first and best chance to show the admissions committee who they are. Therefore, it’s crucial to be consistent. Try to combine statements of purpose, recommendations, and essays, which will give the admissions specialist a more accurate picture.

Not Being Acquainted With Recommenders

Many MBA applicants mistakenly choose endorsers based on their job title rather than their relationship. As previously mentioned, consistency is key. It’s important to choose an endorser who will continue to build a cohesive narrative, and one who knows the applicant enough to provide details (and not simply reiterate the facts listed on their resume.)

In Closing

MBA and business school admissions committees process thousands of applications each year, and even the well-qualified students get rejected—mostly due to these common mistakes. By avoiding these errors and following the tips listed above, any applicant can be on their way to impressing the admissions committee and joining the next MBA class at their chosen school. For more helpful tips and advice from Personal MBA Coach, go to their Twitter page or visit their website.

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