When Dorothy got caught in a twister, hit her head, and woke up in Oz, she couldn't have fathomed the characters that she would meet along the way. There was Glenda, the Good Witch of the North who gave her ruby slippers and gave her the simple instructions to, "follow the yellow brick road." There were the Munchkins who welcomed her to Munchkin land. And we must not forget the friends Dorothy made on her way to the Emerald City: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. All of these characters (including the Wicked Witch of the West) are instantly recognizable and I'm sure we could all identify them with either pieces of ourselves or people we know.
So along my personal yellow brick road to b-school, I too have come across a colorful cast of characters. See if you recognize any of these people.
Paranoid Over Achiever - The annoying person who worries over every aspect of the application process even though they are the one person with NOTHING to worry about. You can spot this person asking questions like, "I have a 3.8 GPA. Should I address the B- I got in freshman writer's workshop in the optional essay. I know it's a total red flag." This person also wants to submit their application 8 weeks before the round deadline because, "every advantage matters," (even when there isn't one). When in this person's presence you suppress the urge to shout, "SHUT THE FUCK UP AND CALM DOWN!" while shoving a Xanax down their throat.
The Prestige Whore - This person wants an MBA and only a top school will do. In fact only one (possibly two) top schools will do. Their motivation to get into the world's most selective MBA programs would be commendable if they weren't such a condescending douchebag to everyone who isn't aiming for those schools. The smug arrogance they exude when saying, "It's okay to go to a bottom tier school like Ross" makes it all the more satisfying when they get dinged by the only top school there is and wind up justifying how they can still get to MBB from Ross.
The Justifier - Separated at birth, fraternal twin to the Prestige Whore, the Justifier is not applying to any top programs and feels the need to justify this decision to anyone who will listen. You will often hear this person proclaiming that unranked MBA is just as good as any prestigious MBA and that what matters most is how well you perform in interviews and on the job. This person likes to throw in anecdotes about the HBS grad who's working as a bank teller or University of Phoenix MBA who now runs their company's finance department. They tend to project general trends off of these isolated cases, calling into question their critical reasoning skills and ability to get into ANY MBA program anywhere. The Justifier feels the need to justify their choice of business school even though they are never asked to do so because honestly, no one else cares.
The Over Eager College Senior - Although this person has no intention of applying to business school for at least 4-5 years they find it necessary to sit in the front of every admissions event and ask inappropriate questions such as, "What do I have to score on my GMAT to get in?" and "Where should I work after graduation in order to get in?" and "What type of volunteer work should I do in order to get in?" At MBA fairs they hog admissions officers' time trying to get an on the spot acceptance while blatantly ignoring the 30 person line forming behind them. They do all of this dressed in either khaki shorts and a polo or their favorite Saturday night party dress (with a blazer over it, natch!).
The Woe is Me Over Represented Applicant - Not to be confused with their distant cousin, The Over Represented Applicant, the Woe is Me branch of this family feels the need to constantly seek pity from other applicants because they are part of a competitive pool. These applicants are constantly working the, "Woe is me, I wish I were a woman/poet/URM then I'd get in easily," spiel. Not only is it disrespectful to these candidates, it also screams "pathetic whiner." Particularly grating are the complaints that women and URMs get so much help when applying to b-school while they are left to twist in the wind. Newsflash! Women and URMs are under represented at b-schools because an MBA isn't even in many of our orbits. We aren't groomed since Pampers for the MBA. Many of us stumble upon the business school option much later, putting us behind the 8 ball in terms of networks, preparation, information, and more. So programs like Forte, MLT, Toigo, etc are around to get us up to speed quickly and get us within spitting distance of where many over represented applicants already are. The Woe is Me Over Represented Applicant can usually be found railing against the "less qualified" women and URMs who supposedly took their spot at ____________ (insert name of top business school).
The Entitled Under Represented Minority - Just as high on the OBNOXIOUS meter as their arch nemesis, the Woe Is Me Over Represented Applicant, the Entitled URM believes that simply being a URM is enough to get them into business school. And not just any business school at that. We're talking top tier all the way. Never mind their abysmal GPA and low GMAT or the fact that they've been in the same job for 5 years without a promotion. They're a minority and top schools should be checking for them (not the other way around). This applicant feels no need to retake the GMAT, enroll in supplemental courses, or do anything to enhance their profile. They believe they will get into school on the wings of affirmative action and exorbitant adcom schmoozing. The Entitled Under Represented Minority often overshadows their more prevalent cousin The Under Represented Minority, giving the entire family a bad name. Heavy doses of reality are usually delivered to EURM in the form of rejection letters.
The Posturer - The Posturer likes to intimidate the competition by proclaiming their greatness. Although you didn't ask, the Posturer feels the need to tell you that they're the top ranked employee in their division. They name drop constantly and tend to go on and on about how they're so tight with so-and-so in admissions. Every school wants them and they're just trying to decide who to bless with their application. The Posturer starts every conversation by asking, "So who do you work for and what school did you go to?" in a transparent attempt to see where they stack up against you.
The Slightly Paranoid, Sometimes Confident, Very Supportive Commiserator - This applicant has been thinking about getting an MBA for a couple of years and is finally ready to pull the trigger. They hit the admissions events, join the online forums, and study hard for the GMAT. Once they clear one hurdle along the road to b-school they're more than happy to help the applicants who are a few steps behind them navigate the course. They sit next to you during admissions events and ask if you're just as nervous as they are (which you totally are). They celebrate their interview invites and freak out in the days leading up to admissions decisions. They vacillate between self confidence in their candidacy and abject terror that they won't get in anywhere. They handle dings in stride (and with a few drinks) and are totally stoked when the next school on their list says, "YES!" These are the people you encounter along the way that make you say, "I totally want to go to school with you!"