Navigating the MBA Application Process, Part 3 of 4

Navigating the MBA Application Process, Part 3 of 4

By Dr. Don Martin, Former Dean of Admissions at Chicago Booth

Hello to our prospective students!  It is a pleasure to meet you.  I have spent my entire career in the admissions space, including 11 years as Associate Dean for the Full-time MBA Program at Chicago Booth.  During that time I personally made the final admission decision on over 80,000 applications.  I have also published a book on the graduate school research and application process (2008 and 2018).  So what you will be reading below is based 28 years as an enrollment management professional.   

This is the third of a series of four blogs written for The MBA Tour. As was suggested in Blog One, taking time to research your MBA options is critical.  Now that you are getting ready to submit your applications, there is also much to consider.  In this blog I am going to discuss the following: 

  1. Seven ways to get positively noticed
  2. Seven deadly sins 

Seven ways to get positively noticed as an MBA applicant:  

  1. Include a succinct, upbeat cover letter with your application, stating why you are interested in the institution and why you hope they will decide to admit you.
  2. Use good recommenders – this can make or break your application.
  3. Be creative, but not sillly or outlandish.
  4. Smile.
  5. Stay calm/keep your cool no mater what happens.
  6. Ask questions that demonstrate you did your homework and are really interested in the institution.
  7. Let the admissions committee know that you hope to be admitted.

Seven deadly sins for MBA applicants:

  1. Dishonesty.
  2. Too much contact.
  3. Not following directions.
  4. Rude or arrogant behavior.
  5. Sending wrong or non-proofed information (essays, recommendations, etc.).
  6. Asking questions you could answer for yourself.
  7. Leaving something completely unaddressed, or making excuses when addressing it.

Stay tuned for my final blog, which covers specific sections of your MBA application.  My best to you and I hope to see you next month! 


Dr. Don Martin is an expert on the business/graduate school research and application process.  He spent 28 years as a Dean of Admissions/Dean of Students at three top U.S. universities – University of Chicago, Columbia and Northwestern.  In 2008 he founded Grad School Road Map, and has coached over 350 business/graduate school applicants, with a 97% acceptance rate.  The second edition of his book was released in July 2018.  Please check out www.gradschoolroadmap.comfor further information. 

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