The ‘my-friend-got-into-a-top-MBA-program-so-he-can-help-me-get-in-too’ Myth

When your friend proudly announced, ‘I got into Harvard (replace with any other elite business school)’, you along with your wide-eyed friends in India did the ‘Tussi great ho. We are not worthy’ routine. Since then you’ve held Mr HBS in high esteem, some kinda demi-god in the MBA arena. So when it was time for you to start working on your MBA applications, you knew where you’d make that first phone call.

But think about it. Just because Mr HBS was successful in getting in, does it mean he’s qualified to help you get in as well?

– You might’ve been chaddi-buddies and Mr HBS knows your deep, dark and dirty little secrets from your personal life, but does he really know everything about you from a business school admissions strategy perspective?

– Mr HBS could create a strong application based on a story that HE identified with and truly believed in. He knew HIS strengths and weaknesses inside out. But is he really in a position to get into YOUR head and do the same for you?

– Will Mr HBS try to force-fit an approach just because it worked for him? Is there a possibility that the approach will backfire for you?

– Has he looked at hundreds of other applications to know exactly how to position you for his alma mater or any other business school?

– Has he kept himself abreast of all developments and trends in the ever-changing MBA admissions world?

– A high-IQ or being an IIT undergrad or a current MBA student doesn’t necessarily translate to excellent writing and presentation skills. In fact, even for smartest of Indian candidates, solid impactful writing has always been an Achilles heel. If you are hoping two negatives will make a positive, think again.

Do use your successful friends as a source of inspiration and a sounding board. But at the end of the day, you need to ensure you submit an MBA application that works for YOU and not for your friend.

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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin


  1. pramod lohia says:

    superb explanations.

  2. Pranjali says:

    Maybe a little late on the comment. I totally agree that impactful writing has always been an Achilles heel for us Indians. Maybe its a culture thing. Since we were kids, we were always (we= generalization) encouraged to study more quantitative subjects. Grammar and writing weren’t encouraged to a great extent and people who wrote for a living were considered ‘buddhu’. How many friends do you have who are prolific writers? I for one have my sister who is brilliant! But that’s about it!
    The application process is a holistic evaluation of the person and good writing skills are a must !! Even the qualifying test, the GMAT, is a great leveller if you compare it with apna desi CAT!!
    I especially like your point about current students. What worked for him might not necessarily work for me!!

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