B-School Applications: 7 Deadly Sins and 4 Simple Things to Strengthen Your Application

By Ujin Han, M.B.A. '12

I can tell—you’re excited. You’ve scheduled your GMAT. You have a list of schools you are applying to. You have a list of all the items they want you to send. But as you fill out the application, write the essays and get the letter of recommendations…do you really have what it takes to get in? What should you avoid and what should you do?

What You Should Avoid:  The “7 Deadly Sins of Business School Applications”

Dr. Don Martin, who was the dean of admissions at the Booth School of Business for 11 years, listed “7 Deadly Sins of Business School Applications” in an US News and World Report article. Avoid these like the plague:

Sin 1. Misrepresenting the facts
Sin 2. Rude or arrogant behavior
Sin 3. Too much contact
Sin 4. Not following directions
Sin 5. Sending wrong or unproofed information
Sin 6. Asking questions you could answer yourself
Sin 7. Leaving something unaddressed or making excuses

These sound like very simple things to avoid, yet we see many applications with these sins—and trust me, they are noticed and flagged (never to be seen again).

What You Should Do: Four Simple Things

  1. Avoid all the seven deadly sins listed. These sins could cost you your admission.
  2. Go to admissions events (such as the UST MBA Forum tomorrow). These events are your chance to meet the admissions representatives and faculty, and make yourself known. If you make a great first impression and you follow through with that admissions rep, you have just recruited an insider to fight for you.
  3. Write stellar admissions essays. We read them carefully, so you should write them carefully. Triple check your work for spelling and grammatical errors, and word limit—then have others proof read them again. (More tips on essays and how to rock them.)
  4. Ask thoughtful questions during the interview: admissions interview isn't different from any other job interviews you've had.  Come prepared (and dressed professionally). Ask questions that tell us you've researched and know the program, such as details on study abroad opportunities, their teaching method and curriculum details, recent news about the program, etc.  (More tips on preparing for an admissions interview.)

If you follow these simple dos and don’ts, you will increase your chances to get into the program and start making your dreams a reality.