#7 – Cultivate self-awareness. This is the key weapon in your admissions arsenal. As they say, “no one can beat you at being you.” Leverage this to set yourself apart from the competition. Keep in mind – the only reason the adcom is reading your application is to get to know YOU. Not your company, your mentor, or your team. So you need to know yourself well enough to speak eloquently on the topic of you. I recommend taking the Strengthfinders assessment, and this quiz to find out your values. What motivates and animates you? Knowing your values will help you answer those WHY application essay questions, i.e, “what matters most and why?” This will set you apart in the eyes of the admissions committee from candidates who wrote less personal and more superficial, predictable essays about “why this school.” This will also help you demonstrate an authentic cultural fit with the school. Showing that you know, understand and mesh with the values of a particular program creates an emotional connection with the reader. And that, my friend, is a highly effective – yet very underutilized – application strategy.