How to tackle your MBA application if you fall under an Over Represented pool

Business schools look for diversity in each of their applicants and one of the major concerns we get from our Indian clients is that they belong to an over-represented MBA applicant pool and they are not aware of how to bring uniqueness in their MBA applications to stand out. 

In this article, we will discuss the categories which belong to an over-represented MBA applicant pool and the tips and strategy of our successful MBA applicants who made their way to top business schools with considerable scholarships despite belonging to an over-represented MBA applicant pool. 

DO YOU BELONG TO AN OVER-REPRESENTED MBA APPLICANT POOL?

What does this term “Overrepresented pool” actually imply? Let’s first get an understanding of this term and will then discuss the strategy to stand out in an over-represented mba applicant pool. 

Disproportionate representation of a larger number of a particular category is termed as over-represented.  If you are an applicant who has worked in the same field a big chunk of other applicants around you are working in, you are considered to fall under an overrepresented pool where many people of the same background and qualifications are competing against you for each spot in the target business school.

If you look into the competition for business schools abroad, you will find many Indian IIT professionals/Indian male engineers as MBA aspirants. Similarly, people working in IB, finance and consulting are more prone to pursue MBA and thus belong to an over-represented MBA applicant pool. Thus, a simple way to figure out if you belong to an overrepresented MBA applicant pool is to analyze if the applicant pool you belong to performs well in the GMAT traditionally. And the first step to making your mba application stand out from the applicant pool you belong to is identifying the applicant pool you belong to. 

Here are the major three categories that belong to an over-represented MBA applicant pool:

1. Indian Engineers (primarily IIT professionals) working in Information technology or engineering

2. Professionals working in traditional fields such as finance, IB, management consulting who need an MBA to move up the ladder

3. East Asian applicants

Here are several other factors that will help you determine your applicant pool and if you are an over-represented MBA aspirant- 

1- Nationality 

2- Academics 

3-  Industry you worked in 

4- Post MBA Goals 

5- Awards and accolades

6-  Extracurricular

HOW TO MAKE YOUR MBA APPLICATION STAND OUT FROM AN OVER-REPRESENTED APPLICANT POOL?

Even though you fall under an over-represented pool, the above-mentioned factors need to be portrayed in a way that would help your application stand out from the crowd and speak to the adcoms for you. And for that, you need to go the extra mile and introspect deep into yourself to find what makes you unique? You may be similar to other MBA applicants from your pool in terms of nationality, background, achievements but your personality, your purpose and goals and beliefs are all yours and make you. Do not get bogged down by the labels! 

For this, you will need to go through an introspection and self-evaluation process to figure out your USP. But once you do, the confidence you will bring in your MBA applications will speak of you and help you stand out.

Here is a 4-step guide to help you get an understanding of how you can position yourself unique despite belonging to an over-represented MBA applicant pool.

1. SELF-DISCOVERY PHASE:

Have ample time at hand, at least 45-60 days prior to your MBA application. Sit down and spend time questioning yourself, interacting with the close ones of yours and identifying your personality, character, goals and purpose. Think of any skills or qualities that people around you appreciate a lot about you that sets you apart from the group of people you are working with. 

Yes, it’s a lengthy process and sometimes, tiring! But you will have to go the extra mile in order to distinguish yourself from others. If you do not know why do you want to do an MBA and what you can bring to the table, how will you convince the adcoms? We have an extensive content gathering process which we start with our clients much before starting their applications and some like to call it “therapy sessions” while some call it the meditative phase. And yes, discovering yourself will take time and you will have to confront many uncomfortable questions but that will help you take to the second stage which is documenting your USPs. 

2. DOCUMENTING YOUR UNIQUE SELLING POINTS TO BRING IN YOUR MBA APPLICATIONS:

Now that you know who you are and how you can contribute to a community, make a document for yourself which will encapsulate who you are. It will help you know your Unique Selling Points that no one from your applicant pool has. This document will help you set the narrative of your story and the whole MBA application and here you will get the key to stand out and distinguish yourself from the over-represented MBA applicant pool you belong to. 

3. FINDING THE RIGHT BUSINESS SCHOOLS FOR YOU AND ALIGNING YOUR CHARACTER WITH THE SCHOOLS’ VALUES:

Finding the right MBA programs for you can be one of the most extensive processes but it holds importance beyond your applications! MBA from top-notch business schools is a one-time opportunity and takes a lot of investment and if you’re not able to find the right MBA program for yourself now, you are going to regret the decision for a long time. 

You need to list down the factors that are important to you. Introspect on questions as to why do you want to do an MBA, what do you seek to gain from a two-year journey of an MBA, how much investment can you make and what return do you expect. Here is a list of factors that will help you in your decision-making. 

Once you know what schools are a good fit for you, now you need to know if you’re a good fit for them. Take time to understand the values of the business schools and what they’re looking for. Speak to the current students and alumni of the school and understand from them what they liked the most about the school and how you can fit in the community of the school. Also, try to connect with people who have the same background as yours. Put yourself through a personality test and then evaluate which of your traits match the values that the school looks for in any candidate, alongside also try to match it with what you learnt from the alumni and the current students of the school. 

From here, you know the right MBA programs for you and how to position yourself in the over-represented MBA applicant pool. 

4. WORKING ON DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF YOUR MBA ESSAYS:

Once you have sorted the above mentioned- get down to the essays and start crafting stories. Make sure that the stories bring out the best version of your personality which will eventually help you offset the low GMAT score and the overrepresented pool that you belong to. 

Here are some suggestions on how you can stand out from the over-represent applicant pool through your MBA essays:

You can talk about some of your extracurriculars, social /volunteer work, passion, and how the experiences have helped you mould into the person you are today. For example, in addition to your IT day job, you trained some students in a school near you in the subject that is of your interest, and your passion for that work has led you to explore the field of management and tech.

Discuss some of the less-obvious skills that you may have acquired from your field that helped you transition and gave advancement to your career ride. For example, you were into consulting but job cutting in your office demanded you to be a multitasker and undertake several other responsibilities like Digital Marketer or Manager and you explored your new talent.

Focus on the stability of your “typical” background, and how your mastery of the industry has inspired you to test yourself and induced a total new talent in you that helped you reach the brim of your career. For example, you’ve been working in your family business since you were a teenager, and are ready to make real waves and disrupt the status quo with the skill that you’re seeking in business school.

Last but not least, don’t stress. You can not alter your work history or your background but you can change the way you present yourself and your candidacy to the admissions committees that will be the right spot to hit and grab an admissions readers’ attention. Just because you are an Indian IT guy or an Indian engineer(or a member of some other common subgroup in the applicant pool), doesn’t mean that you don’t possess other unique qualities that will make you an attractive candidate at top B-schools.

It is similar to that of our physical outlook, as we all humans have the same body but totally different features and traits. In the same way, everybody has their expertise areas and attributes that help them stand out. You need to actively engage in brushing off your pain areas and focus on highlighting the feathers in your cap. It is as simple as that!

We have so many candidates who were ready to compromise with their dream schools just because they were worried that they belong to an over-represented MBA applicant pool and they would not be able to stand out and make it to those schools. But we have always believed that everyone, each applicant is unique and it’s your purpose that matters. If you have the right purpose and clarity of going to a business school, you have a strong case of your candidature, no matter what MBA applicant pool you belong to! 

Read the story of an Indian engineer getting into LBS with a 100% scholarship for pursuing a second MBA. 

There are many more stories and we are happy to connect you with the writer of these stories (our successful admits)! 

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