Top tips for MBA applications

For expat partners applying for an MBA or LLM, consistent and compelling storytelling can help them stand out from the crowd. But it’s also important they give themselves plenty of time to complete the application form.

The final hurdle

From cramming for the GMAT to penning an essay and compiling a CV, there are a number of crucial elements for MBA applicants to consider. According to Paula Braga, a career coach and MBA advisor, many applicants stumble at the final hurdle. “The actual application forms can be really long and that’s what everyone does last,” says Paula. “If you don’t leave enough time, you won’t be in a position to provide the best profile you can. You might have written a perfect essay, but if you make typos and grammatical errors in the application, it will always look sloppy.”

Real life examples

When it comes to recommendation letters, applicants often ask the most senior person they know or a prestigious alumni. That’s fine, says Paula, as long as the person actually knows you. “They need to give examples of times you demonstrated the characteristics they say you have,” says Paula. “If they don’t really know you, the recommendation letter will read like a list of adjectives. Admissions won’t be able to visualise who you are without real life moments.”

Consistent storytelling

Throughout the whole application process – from the resume to the cover letter through to application form and interview – Paula believes consistent and engaging storytelling can make the difference. “First, you want to connect the dots but keep it consistent. If your recommendation and resume says one thing, and the essay reads differently, it jars. Secondly, you also want to stand out. A lot of applicants have a common background. What makes you special? What are your motivations behind your choices?”

A sense of clarity

Although it can be stressful to assemble and complete everything, Paula believes many people come to appreciate the process. “It’s not common that we stop and think about our short- and long-term goals and ask ourselves: Why do I want this? What in the past have I done that were building blocks to achieving my goals? What is still missing? That type of reflection can help you form a life map. Even if you don’t get accepted you will have more of an idea of where you want to go.”

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