10 Mistakes You Should Avoid in Your MBA Application


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Sep 30, 2022 04:38 PM IST

Here are some common mistakes that international students make in their MBA application. Find out how you can avoiding making these mistakes to ensure a succesful application process.

10 Mistakes You Should Avoid in Your MBA Application

Do you want to study at one of the best MBA colleges in the world? A flawless MBA application is your only path to success! Given the growing number of business school applications, competition for MBA admissions abroad is intense.

According to the 2020 Application Trends Survey, there has been an increase in the number of applications received for 67% of over 1,000 programmes at 325 schools, the bulk of which are for business master's degrees. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) study revealed growing patterns, with an emphasis on foreign students enrolling at institutions in Canada, Europe, the United States, and Asia Pacific.

With the growing demand for MBA programmes, you must pay close attention to your MBA application since it not only shows your profile and achievements, but it is also the first formal communication you have with the admission committee at your preferred university. You just need to devote as much effort to writing your MBA application as you do to studying for qualifying exams like the GRE/GMAT. Let us unveil some of the most common mistakes that students must avoid in their MBA application process.

After getting to know about the most common and generic mistakes to avoid in your MBA application process, here are some of the mistakes that you should definitely avoid at different stages of your MBA application process.

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Common MBA Application Mistakes to Avoid

Writing the Wrong School Name

Given that most applicants apply to multiple business schools at the same time, they often make the mistake of writing the wrong school name in their essays. When this happens, the school is likely to reject your application on the spot. To make sure that you do not make this mistake, proofread your essay before submitting it.

Applying to Schools Youre Not Entirely Sure About

In case you are sending an application to a school you are not interested in, theres a high chance that the admissions office will get that idea. And, in such a situation, students who are passionate about the school and have been successful in showing their excitement in their essays will be given a spot at the school.

Sending Essays that are Not University-Specific

When essays are generic, schools lose interest in reading your application. This puts out the image that you did not give 100% of your effort and time to try and be a part of the school. Admissions committees always like to see applications that have been tailored to the school receiving them. Further, this becomes a factor in demonstrating how ideal you are for the university and the program.

Applying to Universities With Low Acceptance Rates

The top business schools like the Ivy League schools usually have high admission standards, leading to applicants with a usual academic background getting sidelined or rejected. It is significant that MBA applicants be realistic about their profile and apply only to universities that have requirements matching their academic and professional backgrounds.

Not Being Honest in Essays

Do not try to be someone you are not. The whole idea of asking applicants to write a Statement of Purpose (SOP) is to tell them who you are, what your true personality is and how it can add value to their MBA program. What many applicants do is tell the admissions committee what they want to hear. Well, the only thing they want to hear is about the true you. Also, try to do away with flowery language and exaggeration about your achievements. This usually leads to a direct rejection of your application.

Incorporating Too Many Suggestions

Yes, instructions are good but when you take too much feedback, you end up using someone elses thoughts rather than your own. It is only you who can tell your story. However, at no point should you think that you cannot take help from experts.

Not Being Selective When Whom to Ask for Recommendation Letters

Please take your time, analyse those who could write you a Letter of Recommendation and then pick the ideal referees. Someone ideal would know what to write and portray their genuine interest in helping you get admitted to the school.

Inconsistency or Lack of Clarity

What should come through in your essay is why you want to do an MBA, why the university and the country, how you will add value to the school and so on. This should all show consistency and not leave any probable questions unanswered. The moment you leave scope for confusion, the admissions committee stops assessing your application.

Informal Tone

Nowhere in your application or essay should you use informal language. The admissions committee does not want to know what you are fond of or how awesome you were as a child. Use a formal tone throughout while also mentioning everything you want in the most professional way possible.

Ignoring Instructions

While some universities do not give specific instructions to write LORs or SOPs, some do and if they do, you must abide by them. From word count to formatting, make sure you meet all requirements mentioned by the university before you submit them.

Mistakes to Avoid in MBA Application for Researching and Planning

The following are examples of MBA application mistakes to avoid at the time of researching and planning, which might derail your application and lose you a spot in your desired programme:

  • Beginning the MBA application process too late. Expect to spend at least 10 to 11 weeks on applications to up to four business schools.

  • Rushing to submit an application in a round while it is unfinished.

  • Too much work is being left until the last minute. You risk not only not doing your best, but also putting faults into your products.

  • Not devoting enough time to GMAT preparation. Discover how long it takes to study for the GMAT exam.

  • Attempting to work on your applications while taking/preparing for the GMAT exam. While this has worked in the past for certain applicants, it is preferable to organise your MBA application calendar so that you may focus on each phase individually and give them your best effort.

  • Inadequate research and failure to leverage local admissions events.

  • Making no attempt to understand the business school and how it fits into your ambitions.

  • Inadequate introspection and remaining on the surface.

Mistakes to Avoid in MBA Application for Application Materials

Below we have highlighted and discussed the most common risks and mistakes that students make when working on their MBA applications, including essays, resumes, and recommendation letters:

  • Incorrectly spelling the name of the business school on your MBA application forms.

  • Writing MBA application essays/statement of purpose (SOPs) and other writing materials for one business school and reusing them at another.

  • Not responding to the essay question according to the business school's requirements and word limit.

  • Attempting to replicate sample essays and SOPs from the internet.

  • Failure to provide context for shortcomings in your candidacy, that may lead to the reader assuming the worse.

  • Using company-specific or everyday language.

  • Inadequate emphasis on major outcomes and industry norms in the resume.

  • Not selecting passionate and trustworthy recommenders who can go into detail.

Mistakes to Avoid in MBA Application for Video Interviews

Many business schools may ask you to create a video essay in order to better understand you and go further into your candidacy. A video essay or interview allows you to properly position yourself in front of the admissions committee. However, there are some common mistakes to avoid in MBA application while making a video essay or preparing for the video interview:

  • Not prepare by practising your speech content, speech delivery, and observing yourself in front of a mirror to identify problems.

  • Using assistive tools and technology during a video interview or essay, which may make you look inattentive.

  • Avoiding eye contact with the interviewer.

  • Not practising mock interviews, which might help you detect and correct weaknesses in your narrative before the actual interview.

Related Reads:

Timeline for September 2023 Intake to Study in USA

MBA Courses with High Salary to Pursue Abroad in 2023

How to Choose the Right MBA Specialisation?

Cheap MBA Colleges in Canada for Indian Students

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How do I make my MBA application stand out?

Here are the top ways to make your MBA application stand out:

  • Organising your finances for experiences 
  • Getting up-to-date with the latest and current events
  • Keeping a journal of all the events related to your MBA application 
  • Taking mock interviews with yourself 
  • Updating your resume/CV and professional profiles on social media 
  • Consider business decisions from diverse views that are not limited by borders, gender, ethnicity, religion, or anything else.

How can I increase my chances of completing an MBA application without mistakes?

You can increase your chances of completing your MBA application without mistakes by:

  • Getting the basics right
  • Applying to the right school before the application deadline 
  • Researching about the business school and shortlisting 
  • Preparing all the documents beforehand 
  • Getting a good and reliable recommendation
  • Keeping your work social media updated 
  • Preparing well for the interview and entrance exams

What is the most overlooked thing in a successful MBA application?

Work experience, which is often underestimated, is an important aspect in MBA applications, and most MBA programmes want candidates to write compellingly about their work experience. The good news is that your MBA application does not need to establish an early job in traditional business sectors such as finance or marketing.

What matters most for MBA admission?

There is not one particular thing or factor that matters the most in your MBA application process. Different business schools have different eligibility criteria and admission processes that students have to carry out. Having said that, some of the significant factors are GMAT/GRE scores, work experience, undergraduate GPA, essays and SOP. 

What is the most common mistake that applicants make during MBA Applications while preparing the essays?

One of the most common mistakes that MBA aspirants commit during the MBA application process while preparing and submitting their essays is exceeding the word count of the essay and not giving attention to the instructions. It is very important for aspirants to not exceed the word count in their essays as it leaves a bad impression in the eyes of the admission committee. 

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