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Fifty Shades of Grey: MBA Edition

50 Shades of Grey MBA Admissions

I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey but know the storyline: intimidated college senior (Anastasia Steele) meets successful magnate (Christian Grey), and they have a wild romance.

To many candidates, applying to elite MBA programs can be as mysterious as Christian Grey, as unsettling a tryst.

Yeah yeah yeah, maybe the analogy falls short. But here are 50 reasons desired MBA programs will put you in the grey zone. The grey zone, in this case, would be the “maybe” or “no” piles.

Admissions Directors could never say these (there are always exceptions to the rules!), so I’ll do it for them (I used to be one). They can thank me later.

Remember no candidate – or application – is perfect. The goal here is minimize admissions alarm bells.

Avoid these grey zone signals to score with your target MBA.

  1. GMAT score below average
  2. Crappy grades in undergrad
  3. Poor grades in quantitative business courses
  4. Not meeting minimum TOEFL or IELTS score
  5. Graduating from an unknown university
  6. Poor English
  7. Mentioning the wrong business school in your application
  8. Vague career goals
  9. Wildly unrealistic career goals
  10. Career goals that have nothing to do with your past experience
  11. Little or no progression in job responsibility
  12. Zero international experience
  13. CV longer than 1 page
  14. CV looks like it’s going to take a long time to read (i.e. no white space)
  15. Indian Male Engineers
  16. No work experience
  17. Little, if any, extracurricular impact during school or work
  18. Being late to an interview
  19. Dressing unprofessionally to an interview
  20. Not having spoken to any students at target school
  21. Taking more than 4 minutes to answer an interview question
  22. Asking ridiculously obvious questions at end of interview
  23. Treating any admissions officer (no matter what rank) rudely
  24. Badgering the admissions office for an answer
  25. Thinking you’re IN because you have a 760+ GMAT
  26. Reciting the school brochure in your essays
  27. Giving canned interview answers
  28. Essays that exceed the word limit
  29. Your essay writing and AWA writing don’t match up
  30. You want to be a management consultant with a GMAT in the 600s
  31. The adcom asks you to retake the GMAT… and you don’t
  32. No concrete business results in your resume
  33. You’ve worked 4 jobs in 4 years
  34. You have unexplained gaps in your resume
  35. Your application is nearly identical to someone else in your demographic
  36. Short recommendations
  37. Lukewarm recommendations
  38. No recommendations from current or past supervisors
  39. You treat the school (and application) like a backup option
  40. You expectantly ask about scholarship funding before getting in
  41. You ask the admissions office to connect you to alumni without a reason
  42. You say “school x is the perfect fit for me” in your application or interview
  43. You treat career services like a job placement service
  44. You only have one post-MBA job in mind
  45. There is no evidence of self-reflection in your application
  46. You don’t answer the essay question asked
  47. Your essays are all lecture, no scenes
  48. Your essay sounds like a cut and paste from another essay
  49. You use your optional essay to cut and paste another essay
  50. You can’t name 3 industries or 3 companies that interest you

Got questions? Objections? Hate the book? 🙂 Let’s hear them in the comments…

update 2/14/2015 – I just found out Matt Symonds of Fortuna Consulting wrote a similarly titled post on Forbes, check it out – 50 Shades of Admissions Grey. Evidence of poor ethics is definitely something I should of included on my list…

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