To borrow from one of my favorite poems, “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos William, yes, so much depends on the MBA data form.
I always love it when people take a ‘big picture view of their MBA application. In my opinion, applicants spend an inordinate amount of time on the tests (and some on the essays). Giving sufficient attention to every element, especially the MBA Application Data Form should be your approach.
So what’s the big deal?
As you can see from the table above, the MBA Application Data Form takes in personal & contact details, background information, details related to your academics, your career goals, test scores, transcripts, work history, and most importantly, anything related to extra-curricular activities, honors, awards, etc. In supplemental questions, you also find questions about where else you are applying or how many events you attended or alumni/ AdCom/ current students you connected with, and so on.
Together with the resume, the MBA application data form gives you an opportunity to paint the complete picture. What you couldn’t put into the 1-page MBA Resume, can go into the data form.
In the academics section, along with unofficial transcripts, coursework, and of course, your CGPA, you may be asked to list specific analytical, technical, and other skills.
Should you convert your CGPA to a 4.0 scale? If they want you to do it, they will tell you and also show you the method to do so. Some B-Schools may need reports from a credential evaluation service provider like World Education Services(WES) .
Sometimes, some of the questions might seem to be redundant. For example, the career goals question could feature both in the essay as well as in the data form (with a more concrete “short question” where you pick industries, functions, geography, et al from a dropdown and fill out a template). Be consistent in both places.
Mostly, there is a section to add more about your extra-curricular activities, your activities outside of work and hobbies- take complete advantage of this. You may also get a chance to rank activities done by significance. Here’s your true chance to showcase every aspect about yourself.
In the Work Experience sections, schools take in comprehensive details about your roles, salaries held, reasons for leaving the role, exact start and end dates of roles, and so on. This would be a great place to highlight your career progression.
For a school like MIT Sloan, there is an additional component- you will need to upload an organization chart.
Some schools use only the application form to get all the details and don’t need a resume- like the Indian School of Business (ISB)!
So, pay attention to the little things in life- like the MBA Admissions Data Form and make time for it.
In fact, I encourage every client to first start filling the application form first and then tackle the first drafts of the essays. Trust me, it will save you a lot of rework and time.