What ‘Angry Birds’ Can Teach Us About MBA Admissions Success

This guest blog post is by Avi Gordon, the founder of MBA Admissions Studio, and author of MBA Admissions Strategy: From Profile Building to Essay Writing.

Luckily, back when I applied for b-school there was no such thing as ‘Angry Birds.’ As Oscar Wilde said: I can resist anything except temptation. Even now, my iPhone winks at me…

I resist. But I maintain everything we do and everything we are is potentially of value in competitive MBA admissions. So what can Angry Birds teach us about beating the MBA admit process? Here’s what:

1. Think first and plan your approach. Take time to consider the situation and the various aspects of the challenge facing you. Survey the landscape. Think through and anticipate what the success moves might be.

2. Understand your resources. You have an armory of skills and experiences at your disposal. As yellow birds are good for wood, black birds are good for stone, etc., so you have attributes that are all different, with different capabilities and implications for MBA admissions. You won’t have them all, and it may well seem you don’t have enough. But if you use what is in your arsenal in the most effective way, it will be enough.

3. Aim carefully. Targeting is crucial. There is probably a lever that will turn the situation. You need to apply your smarts in unlocking the door in just the right way. A subtle touch can bring the whole edifice down in your favor.

4. Every move you make is important, and the order is important. Everything hinges on getting all parts of your application to count, and to be working together.

5. Timing matters. Anyone who has worked with the white bird or the boomerang bird knows timing is the difference between score and ppft. Timing your impact is everything. So it is in MBA essays and interviews – when you play an important value card can be as important as the card itself.

6. Perseverance counts too. Sometimes it is not about smarts, it is about patience and a thick-skinned ability to drive through obstacles. In the long road to making applications to a number of schools, at times the difference between a winner and loser is strength of will. Your feathers will feel a bit ruffled, but it’s a small price to pay.

7. Emotion and passion helps. Part of what’s compelling about Angry Birds is they are… angry. Outrage and revenge is part of the narrative and, like it or not, part of what grabs and holds user fascination. You don’t necessarily want to be angry in MBA admissions (you can be) but it is in your interest to create resonance with Adcom at an emotional as well as intellectual level.

8. It’s okay to turn to others for help. Just like you go on Youtube (or pay Rovio) to see how to clear a level or grab a golden egg, you can turn to others who have been-there-done-that. Tap into the broader wisdom in advancing your application and you greatly cut your head-butting time waste and increase your chances of success.

9. If at first you don’t succeed, there’s the “do-over” button. How many essays have I seen that are complete flops to start with? Truly, an uncountable number. “Redo,” I say. “Try this, add that, adjust here, adapt there.” And voila, a few iterations later I’m reading a knock-em-dead essay.

10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you try to 3-star every level of Angry Birds you will fail the big stuff, which is your MBA application. So put down your phone and get back to work!

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