The next MBA Prep Step™, identifying each school’s Fit Qualities, is the bridge between fashioning the Content Building Blocks for an outstanding MBA application and the kickoff of the application construction process.
During the Discover Your Strengths MBA Prep Step™, you completed a battery of self-assessment exercises and generated insights about your Points of Difference, Character Strengths, Career Story, and Leadership Portfolio.
During the Define Your Career Goals MBA Prep Step™, you discovered your Career Purpose and identified your Dream Job, and with the help of informational interviews and research, you assessed your Career Capabilities and charted your Career Action Plan.
Then, in the Select Your Schools MBA Prep Step™, you conducted in-depth school research to build a case that convinced you – and soon will convince admissions officers – that their school is a perfect match with your academic needs, career goals, and cultural expectations.
When you look at what you have achieved thus far, you should feel a real sense of accomplishment. You have a clear picture of what you want your application to say about you. Armed with these insights about yourself and where you want to go to school, you are nearly ready to begin building your applications.
There is one last step you need to take and that is to ensure you have a thorough understanding of what each school is looking for so that you can use that knowledge to customize each application element to prove you are an excellent fit.
Remember the mosaic analogy that we introduced in the Discover Your Strengths unit? Each Content Building Block you choose to include in your application adds something new to the mosaic until a complete picture of you comes into focus for the admissions committee. Well, now it is time to start making decisions and selecting the Building Blocks for each of your applications. But how?
Earning an acceptance letter is all about the right “fit.” Admissions officers will tell you that their job is to determine if an applicant is a good fit with the school, but what do they mean by that? And how do you prove you fit?
The truth is that the core of your application is going to be the same from school to school. 80% of the Content Building Blocks you use will be exactly the same from application to application. After all, each application is a representation of you.
The secret to proving you fit with a particular school is to choose the “right” 20% of the Building Blocks that are different from application to application. In other words, to prove you fit, you need to tailor each application to emphasize some of your qualities over others. This is not about fooling or tricking the admissions committee – it is simply about tailoring your application based on your knowledge of what each school is looking for.
Practically speaking, this might mean choosing to feature one of your Character Strengths over another – or highlighting a certain Point of Difference that you believe is a difference the particular school you are applying to will really care about. As a natural consequence of choosing to feature different qualities and strengths, you may end up choosing different stories or essay topics or, at least, tailoring the stories you tell to ensure the qualities you want to emphasize in that particular application are front and center.
This is simply good strategy and good marketing. Much of your competition will simply send in carbon copies of the same resume and essays for every application – whereas you are going to be thoughtful and strategic about the mosaic you assemble for each of your applications.
For example, let’s say that you know that analytical abilities are extremely important to one school you are applying to whereas team leadership abilities are the most important quality for another. In customizing your applications, you would be wise to ensure that your analytical capabilities shine through in the first application and your team leadership capabilities get the spotlight in the second. If being accepted is “all about the right fit,” then the key to earning an acceptance letter to your dream school is to prove you are a better fit than your competition.
So assuming we have convinced you of the wisdom behind tailoring each application to emphasize what each school is looking for, then the question becomes: “How do you choose the 20% of the building blocks that are going to be different?”
That is what you will learn about in this MBA Prep Step™ – how to identify each school’s Fit Qualities – the qualities the schools you are applying to value most highly.
We will start with a discussion of what Fit Qualities are and distinguish between Valued Qualities and Fit Qualities. Then, you will learn a step-by-step process that you can use to identify the Fit Qualities for the schools you are applying to, which should be the focal point of your school research going forward.
There are three parts in this MBA Prep Step™ process:
- Research the Fit Qualities
- Define each Fit Quality
- Rank the importance of the Fit Qualities
If you don’t remember anything else from this section of the website, please remember this important point: proving you fit is about knowing what qualities the school you are applying to values most and using that knowledge to strategically customize your application to that program – especially your essays.