Diversity in a B-school

B-schools have constantly been focusing on “diversity” to build their batch of students. In almost every B-school, one of the essays do require details on how a candidate can add to the diversity or probably what is the one thing which would be unique to the candidate’s profile. All they are asking for diversity.

Admission committees focus on building a class of interested people from varied backgrounds. Their purpose is only to build a group where learning is not only a classroom focussed learning but also to learn from the varied experiences the students might have had.

According to Chicago GSB:

“The conviction that diversity enhances learning is a fundamental tenet of the Chicago MBA. We are strongly committed to fostering an environment where different perspectives are encouraged and embraced.”

MBA is only about how you handle business situations and how to apply one’s business learning into practice. One reason because of which most of the schools focus on case-based learning.

As Harvard puts it:

“Diversity among the student body is a foundation for the HBS experience—both inside and outside of the classroom. Indeed, these differences are critical to the HBS learning model, which thrives on the many perspectives and life experiences our students bring to the classroom from around the world.”

Keeping this in mind, we can think of how to add value to a class in a field in which, in the best case, you are the best, or unique. Just think of something which can be unique. It can be:

  • A hobby
  • Family background
  • Academic background
  • Ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Extra-curricular activities, viz, a state/national football player, community service

How can you build diversity?

I am not going to talk about creating stuff for your application. Though that is possible, but the admission committees have been reviewing application for years and it would be too difficult to fake. So the point lies in introspection.

Build on your hobby

Here comes a problem for candidates who think they have a common profile and they are no different than the others. That’s not true. Everyone’s different. You just need to identify that one thing in which you are, or you were good at. Build on that.

Maybe you used to paint when you were in school. Work on that. Take it to the next level. Participate in some exhibitions. Or publish your art on the net.

Pick up a new language

You can go for a foreign language course. And don’t just stop at the basics. Learn it to a level where you can converse in the language comfortably. Okay, this might take time; probably 6-7 months, at least. But just an idea.

Some general guidelines

  1. Say something extra. For the uniqueness factors mentioned above, ethnicity, background, etc., do not mention them just for the sake of it. Discuss how that factor has helped you shape your personality, your career. What have you learnt from a particular life experience you might have. You can also discuss on the effect it has had on your decision to go for an MBA.
  2. When discussing your hobbies, talk about at what level you used to participate. It could be sports, art, photography, writing, anything. Discuss what your contributions were, what motivates you. Discuss if you are going to continue it after your MBA program begins. If the school provides a platform for that, mention it as your advantage.
  3. Soft skills cannot make you unique. For a B-school, leadership, communication skills, etc are required. So this is expected of all candidates. You might be good at it, but you are not unique. Emphasise on these points in another essay which talk about your qualities, but do not mention it as your uniqueness factor.
  4. Join some clubs. It could be a non profit organisation or a theme club. As an example, you can join Mensa, if you feel you have above par IQ. You can join Toastmasters club, if you are good at public speaking.

Just be to the point and make sure to cite examples. You can always talk about your experiences in diverse situations, but be sure to be to the point and mention your contribution to the class.


shelin said...

This is a great article for all the folks out there aspiring for an MBA....
Thanks a lot for putting this up and looking forward to seeing many such articles from you which will help me and thousand other out there who are mad about buisness degree :)

The Teacher said...

Thanks a lot for the appreciation Shelin. I hope I will live up to the expectations of my readers and share as much information as I can through my blog.

Richa said...

Thats a great post!

I have never been able to find a better answer to the diversity questions.

Eswar Reddy said...

Thanks a lot for writing such articles. It will surely foster people to think in correct direction. Looking forward for more!!

The Teacher said...

Thanks Eswar for the motivating words. I am all in to share whatever information I have.

Abu said...

I have always had this question on how to improve your profile and what and what not to do. Your post helped give me a good direction to start with. Good job !!