Today’s post authored by Second Year student Esther Edoho (Class of 2022). Edoho is a member of the Second Year Admissions Committee, a credit-bearing class that allows students to work on special projects, conduct interviews, and work alongside Darden’s Admissions team to recruit future classes of MBA students. This group of students also serves as informal ambassadors to the Darden experience, lending their own knowledge and expertise to prospective students and applicants.

Applying to an MBA program can be a stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips to help you make the most of your application:

1. Be yourself

You are a combination of all your experiences and these things make you who you are. It is important to infuse your uniqueness through your application. Take the time to reflect on your values and needs. Figure out what you enjoy, what’s important to you in an MBA experience, etc.  Authenticity will make you stand out in your essays and in your interview. A strong application shows the Admissions Committee who you are, what you care about, what you bring to the table and why you would be an excellent addition to the school.

Esther Edoho, Class of 2022

2. The MBA is a truly holistic process

Often when people talk about the MBA process, there’s a lot of emphasis on GMAT/GRE. However, you should work just as hard to ensure that your essays, recommendations, and interviews are solid. What you do not have in test scores, you might be able to make up for in the other parts of the process. Give each step of the process the time and dedication it requires.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of a good recommendation

Choosing who will give you a great recommendation is crucial. Make sure that your recommenders know that you will need a recommendation for business school from them early. Take the time to figure out what each school is looking for in a candidate and make sure your recommenders can highlight those qualities in you.

4. Be strategic

There are a lot of incredible business schools in the US. Look beyond the most popular ones. In fact, you might find that the schools that is the best fit for you might be the one you least expected. Take the time to get to know each school you are considering and what makes them different. Figure out what you need to thrive and if these schools can provide it. Think about you career goals and if the schools on your list will be able to get you there. Knowing these things will help you answer your essay questions and will help you excel in your interviews.

5. Show impact on your resume

MBA programs are looking for people who are on track to being future leaders so when describing your professional or volunteer experience, be sure to show the impact the things you did had on people, processes, or the company at large. I know this can be hard but quantifying your impact shows why what you did was valuable.