• Applying to only the top 10 schools just because they’re famous.
    Don’t limit yourself to schools based only on rankings. Instead, choose schools carefully based on how well they suit your needs schools will know if you don’t match their school and will probably not accept you, even if you are a strong candidate. The best strategy is to apply to some “dream” schools that you really hope to get into even though you know the competition is fierce. Then choose some “reasonable” schools where your qualifications are similar to previously admitted applicants. Finally, choose some “safe” schools where your qualifications exceed those of previously admitted applicants. Applying to a combination of schools increases your chances for being accepted this year.
  • Missing opportunities.
    MBA fairs and tours, visits by school representatives, and on-campus information sessions are helpful for understanding the application process. First, you can gather information that will help you decide which school to apply to. Then, once you have chosen schools, the information you gathered can be incorporated into your essays to show the admissions committee that you are committed enough to their school to learn about them in depth.
  • Focusing too much on improving your GMAT or TOEFL score.
    If you don’t have the GMAT score you were hoping for, it is still possible to be admitted to your target school. High quality essays and recommendations that demonstrate your strengths and selling point can make the difference. (A recent IvyLeague student with 580 GMAT was accepted to Wharton, while applicants with 800 GMAT scores are often rejected from schools such as Stanford. Test scores don’t tell the whole story!) At least two months before the school’s deadline, you need to concentrate on writing your essays. (If you are applying to more than one or two schools, you will need to begin even earlier.) Applicants never get admitted with strong test scores but weak essays. However, the opposite is possible. You can also concentrate on delivering a strong interview to convince the admissions committee of your communication ability and your distinctiveness.
  • Applying late.
    It is highly advisable to send your applications by the first or second deadlines for any schools you really care about. In most cases, your chances decrease dramatically in later rounds. If the school has rolling admissions, apply as early as possible, but try to send your application no later than the end of January.
  • Quitting your job to work on applications.
    This doesn’t look good to the admissions committee, since it leaves a gap on your resume that is difficult to explain. Also, the majority of applicants continue to work full-time while preparing their graduate school applications. Compared to these applicants, you may think you look more committed but the admissions committee will find you less impressive.

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