Applying for an MBA with a Criminal Background

3. Your Honesty

Your MBA profile is nearly perfect: You’ve got great stats and an impressive resume. You’re friendly, personable, and a fantastic leader. There’s just one little glitch: your criminal record.

“Can You Recover from Your Criminal Record?” is the first post in our blog series,9 Secrets to Standing Out,a guide to helping YOU stand out in your MBA application – no matter how ordinary your profile may seem.

• Can You Get Accepted After Doing Something Stupid?

2. When You Committed Your Crime

5. Where You Bring it Up

• MBA Essays That Earn an Automatic Rejection
Every situation is unique and should be dealt with differently. An Accepted admissions consultant can help you overcome your hurdles and create an MBA application strategy that presents you at your best – with or without a criminal record.

4. How You Bring it Up

A criminal record does work as a strike against you, but it’s not necessarily an insurmountable problem. Here are some points to consider:

Will your past mistake ruin your future? It might….

You can address your criminal record in an essay that asks you to describe a personal flaw or weakness, or, if that doesn’t seem appropriate, you can disclose past indiscretions in an optional essay. Once this information has been presented in your written application, I would not bring it up again in an interview unless you are specifically asked about it.

Related Resources:

Your approach should be direct and succinct. Take responsibility for your actions, express regret, and then discuss what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from the situation. Don’t be defensive or apologetic. Leave the drama and tears at home, tell your story, and move on. And don’t divulge more details than are necessary – this isn’t Confession and this isn’t your best friend who wants to hear your every move.

A minor crime committed 5+ years ago (like when you were a dumb teenager or college kid) will be forgiven sooner than a crime you committed last week (as a responsible adult applying to business school).

If the crime you committed was especially serious, it’s possible that it could lead to rejection, regardless of how pristine the rest of your application is. Violent crimes or money-related crimes, for example, are potentially insurmountable. Marks on your academic record (like cheating) may also pose a threat to your acceptance. You are expected to be a trusted contributor to the b-school environment – and beyond – and such crimes will severely detract from your potential to do so.

• The Quick Guide To Admissions Resumes

Not all crimes are created equal, and adcoms will take the severity of your crime into consideration. Did you shoplift from the dollar bin at Target? Did a wild night in college put disorderly conduct on your record? Minor misdemeanors like these are more likely to be excused than more serious crimes like drunk driving, sexual harassment, or tax evasion.

1. The Severity of Your Crime

6. Is it a Deal-Breaker?

You’re doing the smart thing by putting your record out there in the open. Better that you present the information yourself then for the adcoms to stumble upon your dark secret on their own. Background checks happen; if you don’t fess up, you won’t look good.

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