What are the 5 most important things business schools look for?
GMAT? GPA? Work Experience? Yes, are of these contribute towards the admission decision. Some of these things you can change (for example, the GMAT), some things are harder to change (your work experience), and some things are not possible to change at all (such as your undergraduate GPA).
All of these metrics are a bit of a science of MBA Admissions. But, selecting among thousands of well-qualified students is not just a Science, but also an Art. Today we will discuss 5 things that business schools really look for in candidates, and the 5 questions admission officers will look answers for in your application.
Question #1: Why do you want to do an MBA?
Your career may be going great, you may have an awesome work experience and exceptional academic achievements, but if you can’t explain why you want to do an MBA and how it will help not just you, but other people around you, you probably won’t catch the attention of an admission officer, and your application may be headed straight into the trash bin.
Question #2: Why do you want to do an MBA now?
Once you clearly communicate how an MBA degree is going to contribute to your personal and professional development, you need to explain why NOW is the right time to do an MBA. Here you need to share your vision and extend your “story” into the future, so that the MBA education becomes part of the story of your success.
Question #3: Why do you want to do an MBA here?
Truth be told, so many MBA candidates don’t pay enough attention to this question. Ask any admission director, and he or she will tell you funny and awkward anecdotes about applications to one school that describe why the candidate wants so much to gain admission to a totally different school!
Don’t cut and paste your essays from one school’s application package into another. Do your research, talk to the admission people, meet current students, ask to be introduced to alumni, or go and visit the school! You are about to spend tens, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars on your MBA education – if you can’t explain clearly why you want to study at a specific school, it may not be the right choice for you, and admission officers will see this in your application.
Question #4: Why should we pick you?
You are about to invest your time and money in the MBA education, but the business school will also invest its resources into you, and will attach its “brand” to your name. Are you the candidate who should have the words “My Name, My Dream School, MBA” written on your business card?
Every school has a certain unique culture, but all schools want the best candidates to preserve and grow their brand. What’s so special about you? Think about what you stand for, what is your leadership style, and what is your story, and do your research (or hire an admission consultant) and understand if the business school has a culture that matches yours. Then go ahead and communicate these traits in your application package and at the interview – and you are sure to impress the admission committee.
Question #5: Will you succeed?
Ultimately, your goal is to “wow” the admission committee and show the school that you will not only succeed, but will also contribute to the success of other students in your class. Think of something exceptional that you’ve done that made a real difference in the lives of others and proved you as an awesome leader, a real professional, and a person with high integrity – and make sure your entire application conveys your story (or stories) well.
From the essays, to the resume, via the reference letters of your recommenders, and all the way to your interview – you need to paint a picture of you as the most desirable candidate this business school could ever dream of, and the admission letter is almost in your pocket (or in your mailbox!)
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