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Posted by Chioma Isiadinso
[This blog was first published by Chioma Isiadinso on Business Because MBA Application Blog]
Over the years, I’ve worked with many MBA applicants, helping them determine which business school fits them best and honing their application materials to improve their chances of getting in.
And what I’ve seen time and time again is that the students with the best chances of being admitted are those who take their application seriously, and put in the work and the time required to do it well.
If you’re thinking about applying to business school, here are four do’s and don’ts to keep in mind in order to improve your chances of being admitted:
While it may not seem as though there’s all that much work involved in putting together a business school application, applying can take serious time.
Finalising a business school application can easily last two or three months, and stretches beyond that when you factor in the time taken to research different programs.
When it comes to something this important, have in mind Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
You’ll have to plan for the worst-case scenario, and possibilities range from being unable to get in touch with your recommenders, to needing to rewrite your admissions essay from scratch, and requiring more time to study for the GMAT or GRE than you think necessary.
Hopefully none of the above will go wrong, but you need to strongly consider their likelihood. If you’ve procrastinated and left everything to the last minute, you may find yourself submitting a poor application, or missing the deadline entirely.
People that choose a program based on ranking alone often end up wishing they’d made a more personalised choice. Really get to know the schools you think you might want to attend in as many ways as possible.
Read the blogs written by students and admissions directors. Watch the school’s webinars and listen to their podcasts. Get in touch with any alumni that you might have in your personal network. If it’s at all possible for you to visit the school, do it.
All of this research can be time-intensive, but your choice of business school will have a massive, potentially life-changing, impact on your life and career.
Putting in the research time at the outset will not only help you make the best decision for you, having researched the school in-depth will also aid you in making a compelling case for your chosen school’s admissions committee.
Many applicants feel like they’re going to business school in order to figure out their career, and that’s perfectly acceptable. But in order to get there, you’ll have to convince the admissions committee you belong on their program.
Why do you want an MBA? What do you see your career looking like in five years? Ten years? How do you want to change the world (or at least your part of it)?
These are expansive questions, but if you can give them some serious thought you’ll be at an advantage – not only with your admissions essays and interview, but also when it comes to planning your path through business school and your post-graduation career.
Going the extra mile will mean different things to different applicants, depending on where you are in your career and what your particular strengths and weaknesses are. But what it really means is don’t settle. If you really want to get into a top business school, give it your all.
Always volunteer for projects and opportunities at work that will help showcase your leadership potential. Take a GMAT or GRE prep class to elevate your score into a higher percentile. Nurture your relationships with potential recommenders to make sure you get the strongest endorsement possible. Leverage all of your relevant resources to make sure that the application you submit is the strongest it can possibly be.
Building your MBA application is a holistic process, not a step-by-step checklist. You can’t go back and change your undergraduate transcripts or your past work experience, but there is a lot you can do to make yourself stand out as a candidate. These tips should help you get started, but all you have to do is put in the work.