Applying to an MBA program is as exciting as it is often confusing!
- How do I pick the right program?
- When is the best time to apply?
- How do I make my profile stand out among thousands of other applicants?
This week, we kick off the new 2017 MBA Application season with top 10 MBA Admissions tips.
1. Do the school research!
First of all, understand WHY you want to do the MBA and WHAT you want to get out of it. There are a lot of different criteria to consider: location, class composition, program type, program length, tuition, rankings, career opportunities, etc.
Write down your career goals and pick the schools that will help you get there. Be sure to visit MBA fairs and talk to as many school representatives as you can – you may have read some blogs and visited business schools’ websites, but there is no substitute for getting first hand comments from real people!
2. Get to know your dream schools better!
Once you create a short list of your target schools, do a more thorough research into the schools’ profiles to make sure you get the right fit: visit the campus, talk to current students, feel what it’s like to spend a day of the real MBA life on campus. You may have a very different feeling towards a school after visiting it, but you will definitely find your perfect fit!
Take your school selection seriously. After all, an MBA degree is a big investment of your money and time that has the potential to pay you back many times over and fulfill you personal and career dreams. Get the right support and the right resources, and you could take your career to the heights you never thought possible!
3. Get your GMAT or GRE done!
Some business schools will accept either the GMAT or the GRE. Some will require the GMAT only. If you haven’t taken any of these tests yet, choosing the GMAT (the Graduate Management Admission Test) will show the Admissions Committee that you’re serious about getting a Business Degree.
If you’re targeting one of top business schools in the United States, Canada or Europe, you will need an above-average GMAT score, ideally over 700. Since only 11% of test-takers get such a high score, take your preparation seriously and allocate enough time to prepare for this test!
Write a diagnostic test before you begin studying. Put together a realistic study plan. Sign up for a Free 1-on-1 Consultation with a 99%-ile GMAT trainer who will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and develop a study strategy.
Take a GMAT course if it’s available in your city, or an online prep program if a live course is not feasible. Many other candidates applying for the same MBA spots do!
After all, the GMAT is not a test of intelligence or any subject matter. It’s a test of how well you can study and learn from your own mistakes. No matter how you did in high school or University, you can get a good GMAT score with the right strategies, the right focus, and the right training.
Look for a blog post next week with top 10 GMAT preparation tips!
4. It’s not only about the GMAT…
Nor it is only about your undergraduate GPA. Remember that an MBA is a professional degree, not simply an academic degree. While your academic achievements are important (and getting a low GMAT score and, to a lesser extent, low GPA could be a deal breaker), AdComs look for well-rounded individuals who can succeed not only in the program, but also in their future careers.
Be sure to take the entire application process as seriously as you’re taking your GMAT prep. Even if you plan to prepare the application on your own, get a professional opinion on the strength of your profile before you apply. Admit Master offers free MBA Admissions Consultations, sign up here.
5. Observe the deadlines!
Many top business schools accept applications in rounds. To be considered for a round, you must submit all documentation by the posted deadline (note: they can be different for different schools!)
Leave yourself plenty of time to get your application in order. Learn about financial aid application deadlines (they could be different). Keep in mind that recommendation letters as well as the GMAT prep may take longer to complete.
Look for a blog post in 2 weeks with important tips on the timing of MBA applications!
6. MBA Application Essays: tell a story!
The most successful applicants tell a compelling story. They don’t simply answer the essay questions; they develop a story that helps them stand out among thousands of applicants. You may have a very strong GPA, GMAT and work experience, but how are you different from everyone else who does?
Writing a personal story is often the hardest part of the application, which is so frequently overlooked. Hire an MBA Admissions coach if you need to – it will be a small expense relative to the benefits you’ll get from earning a degree from your dream business school!
Make sure to write targeted essays for each school you apply to. Avoid copying and pasting your essay answers from school A to school B. Business school admission committees will catch these errors right away and your reputation will be undermined. Proofread before submitting your essays.
The worst mistake you can make is to misspell the name of the school or to write about a different school in your essay – this will be a sure-fire way to get your application thrown out before the admissions officer even finishes reading it!
7. Not your typical resume!
The MBA Application resume is different from a typical work resume. Think of quality vs. quantity. Ditch the list of technical skills and focus more on your career progress and your leadership skills.
Whenever available, include specific figures (e.g. the number of employees you supervised, or the amount of sales growth your efforts yielded). Punch up the tone with a variety of verbs, rather than repeating the same, blanket action words. Highlight major certificates or awards, and remember to mention your community and volunteer involvement.
Finally, limit your resume to a single page. An easy task, right?
8. Pick the best recommenders!
Choose people who know you well and can speak about your character, work ethic, dedication, and commitment. Don’t go for titles – your immediate supervisor is often a much better reference than a CEO or a VP who only saw you a handful of times.
Be sure to give your recommenders plenty of time to write your recommendation letters. You don’t want to be chasing your managers or clients at the last minute.
In most cases, schools won’t allow personal friends or family members to write your recommendation letters, and won’t be interested in academic references, unless you’re applying for direct entry Master’s or Co-op MBA programs.
Your letters of recommendation are opportunities to present glowing, third-party endorsements. With proper planning, they’re a foolproof way to boost your application.
9. Ace the Admission Interview!
Some candidates take the MBA Admission interviews too lightly. Don’t!
If you were to invited for a job interview, are you guaranteed the job? Approach the business school interviews even more seriously than you were a job interview.
Do a thorough research into the school you are going to have an interview with. Be ready to answer behavioral questions and address any gaps in your profile.
Let the interviewer lead the session and set the tone, but don’t forget that an interview is a two-way exchange process. Tell your story. Ask compelling questions, answers to which can’t be easily found online.
Don’t miss your opportunity to shine! Once you’ve been invited to the interview, that one hour with the admissions officer may be the most important hour of your future career! It may mean the difference between getting rejected, being on a wait list, or getting in with a huge entrance scholarship!
Even if you haven’t used Admissions Consultants to help you with the entire application process, hiring a coach to help you prepare for the interview is usually an excellent idea!
10. Money can be found!
High MBA tuition fees can certainly be a turn-off for many applicants; however, if you have what it takes to get into a top business school, money can usually be found!
Remember that there are many sources of funding. Business schools have dedicated departments to help you figure out the sources of funding. Moreover, you have a lot of influence over your chances of getting a large entrance scholarship! Don’t let the fact that you don’t know where the funds will come from – yet – deter you from applying to world’s best business schools.
An MBA degree is an investment in yourself that takes careful planning. Follow these best practices and create a competitive MBA Application that will surely make it to the top of the pile! Make the right choices, and your career can be changed for the better forever.
Admit Master is one of North America’s leading MBA Admissions and GMAT prep companies headquartered in Toronto. Admit Master is known for its unique personalized approach, professional GMAT training, and expert MBA Admissions Consulting offered by a team of former Admission Directors from top business schools.
Sign up for a Free 1-on-1 Consultation and let us guide you to a successful admission to your dream business school!