Let’s start with the basics:
Overrepresented background: What does it mean?
- Simply put, if you have profile X applying to school Y, and if the school gets lot of applicants from profile X, then your profile is OVERREPRESENTED.
- There are certain profiles (for eg. Indian IT background) which are fairly largely represented across most business schools. However, there are certain profile such as Investment Banking, which might not be adequately represented at a school such as UCLA, but would be overrepresented at NYU Stern.
- Bottomline: any background could be overrepresented depending on the school.
Here, are three things you should do if you are from an overrepresented background:
- Pick your schools strategically and apply to several schools:
- For eg. if you are from the Indian IT background, make sure that you apply to several schools and apply early (preferably by round-1). The traditional philosophy of applying to 4-5 schools does not apply to you.
- Split your school selection by categorising your list into “reach schools” (difficult to get into schools); “target schools” and “safe schools”
- Apply to a school wherein you have a strong background fit. For eg, if you are from an IT background, don’t apply to Wharton saying that you would like to do Investment Banking. Consider applying to UCLA, with a Management Consulting story.
- Start early and “build” your application:
- Several consultants dissuade their clients from volunteering at non-profits (or take profile building steps) for the purpose of MBA applications. Yes, it is true that the adcom might see right through your profile building steps. But, there is nothing wrong in pursuing this. If anything, it shows that you are committed to getting into a school and are going out of your comfort zone by exploring new things. So here is what we advice: if you are from an overrepresented background, the competition for you is already tough, do everything possible to differentiate your profile. Like in life, when it comes to business school admissions, everything matters.
- You need time to build your profile, therefore, you should start early.
- Consider teaching, mentoring someone and building an online presence.
- There are certain platforms such as Unacademy, wherein you can teach courses. You could consider teaching courses on such platform, or you could start your own youtube channel. This allows you to build an online profile.
- You could also explore the option of mentoring someone at work. These engagements are usually quick and can be wrapped up in a meaningful manner within 2-3 months time.