How to Stand Out as a Deferred MBA Applicant—From a GSB/HBS Admit

A Stanford and Harvard deferred MBA admit outlines his top tips for other applicants on how to create and submit the most standout, compelling business school application possible.

Yash G.

By Yash G.

Posted March 12, 2024

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Hi, I'm Yash G. I just graduated from the Stanford GSB and was accepted to both the Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School through their deferred MBA application programs.

Standing out as a deferred applicant is difficult – not only are schools deciding why they should admit you in the first place, but they are also deciding why they should admit you NOW.

Here are a few key tips on how to stand out as a deferred MBA applicant to these top schools.

1. Leadership, Leadership, Leadership

Given that deferred applicants have less experience to highlight, leadership experience is paramount to a strong deferred application. Leadership positions in student organizations, organizing committees of conferences, volunteering at non-profit organizations, etc. are great ways of showing leadership in college that will help you stand out.

2. An Entrepreneurial Spirit

Top deferred MBA programs aren’t looking for students who are fully formed – but they are looking for the highest potential applicants. One predictor for future success, especially at schools like Stanford and Harvard, is entrepreneurial spirit. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to start a venture-backed company when you are 18…but it does mean doing things in a different way. Organizing a new conference or club event, creating a new initiative at work, or launching your own blog or TikTok account are all ways to showcase your creativity and entrepreneurial thinking.

3. Tailored Recommendations from People Who Know You

Many deferred MBA applicants make the mistake of relying on recommendations from “name brand” recommendations. Instead of focusing on how impressive a recommender's title may be, instead focus on finding recommenders that can speak to your skillset, ambition, and qualities deeply. Additionally, finding recommenders that have distinct viewpoints on you (e.g. academic vs. professional, managing vs. being managed, etc.) is important to paint a holistic picture of your application.

4. Consistency in Your Brand

To stand out among hundreds of well-qualified deferred MBA applicants, your brand needs to be unique. Admissions officers need to have a clear impression of who you are and what you will do with an MBA. Even if you don’t have a 5 or 10-year plan fully thought through, create a consistent narrative for the admissions committee. Tie in your past experiences, full-time post-grad plans, MBA, and post-MBA plan to create a compelling narrative that showcases why you need an MBA and why the school needs you.

For more tips on deferred MBA applications or regular MBA applications – book a FREE intro call or coaching here. Best of luck on your journey!

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