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Book Excerpt: The Importance of an MBA Candidate’s Profile

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Welcome back to our 10-part series, in which we share an excerpt from the recently published book Becoming a Clear Admit: The Definitive Guide to MBA Admissions, with added commentary from its author, Alex Brown.

In this fourth part of the series, we look at the importance of an MBA candidate’s profile.

Book Excerpt:

Your attributes determine the overall strengths of your candidacy. Meanwhile, your personal profile determines, to some extent, who you compete with in the applicant pool and provides the broader context for your experiences as the adcom attempts to craft a diverse class.

Schools want to admit a balanced class that is diverse with regard to a number of metrics.

MBA candidate's profile

Together, these dimensions comprise your personal profile.

Why is diversity important? A diverse class makes each student’s experience richer and more fulfilling. If everyone in the class were the same as you, then you probably would not learn much from your peers inside or outside of the classroom. Having a majority of international students from one country, or a majority of candidates from one industry, would harm the overall experience.

Candidates who come to an MBA program from a non-traditional career may not have faced the same challenges as a management consultant or investment banker, but their unique experiences add value and a new perspective to class discussions.

Admissions committees also consider your overall profile and socio-economic issues as they evaluate your successes. A female engineer may have had to endure more discrimination at work in order to achieve her successes as compared to her male counterparts. An adcom may therefore regard her accomplishments all the more highly.

Author’s Commentary:

While the section on a candidate’s five attributes is the part of the book that includes the most original thinking, developing this section on profiles probably changed my understanding of admissions the most. While, as an adcom and admissions consultant, I understood the importance of diversity in an MBA program; I had paid less attention to the aspects of discrimination that many candidates from these groups experience in order to achieve their successes.

Time and again, you hear a candidate whose profile places him in an over-represented bucket, for example a white male banker, express frustration at the notion that if he were female or black, his application would get a boost. The reality is that someone who is female or black may well have had to overcome challenges that her white male counterpart has not.

It is also important to develop role models who can help blaze a trail for further generations of students and leaders for these groups.

As I developed this section of the book, I enjoyed looking at the history behind the progress that some marginalized groups have endured. It now seems odd, in this day and age, that there was a time when women were not admitted to top universities. Sadly, being gay is still illegal in many countries. Challenges that these groups face are hard to imagine for this white guy from the dominant culture.