Competition for the top-ranking business schools is tough, whether you want to study an MBA in the US, UK, Australia or Europe. So if you’re considering investing some serious time and money in your Masters of Business Administration and you want the best chance of getting accepted, check our guide to applying to the best business schools.
The most prestigious business schools, such as Wharton and Harvard, say they only accept around 10% of those who apply.
So how do you make sure you get into that 10%?
There are some things you just can’t change…
First of all, be honest with yourself. You cannot change your grade average (or GPA), your work experience or your general intelligence. That doesn’t mean you can’t study an MBA – it just means that the top-ranking schools might not be the best fit for you.
If you didn’t do as well on your Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) as you hoped, why not take it again? Schools only look at your last results. And if you’re about to be promoted or gain more challenging responsibilities, why not wait a year and improve your work experience profile?
Your IELTS score is also critical if English is not your native language, so it’s worth investing in an IELTS prep course to improve your results.
You might think that they are looking for someone who has a series of high distinctions, scored 800 on their GMAT, speaks 12 different languages, was CEO of Dell and who also happens to have a Nobel Peace Prize or an Olympic gold medal. Well, yes, that person might just get in.
But all schools look at a rounded picture of who you are and what you’ll contribute to the class and the school. Which is why it’s very important to be honest about yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
You do need to do really well on that GMAT to get into many of the top business schools. The average score is 500, but at the best MBA schools it will be 700 and higher. This score may be the difference between the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ pile, so put some effort into your study and don’t be scared to retake it if you need to.
Many schools use the GMAT to work out how successful you are likely to be. Do you have the intelligence and discipline to get through the program? Plus, a class of students with high GMAT scores reflects well on their prestige and selectivity.
There are other schools that do not required a GMAT results, but your English language proficiency is just as important. So make sure your IELTS is at least 6.5, otherwise you may find yourself struggling to keep up with your English-speaking students and teachers.
SEE ALSO: What is GMAT?
Is work experience also really important?
Yes, absolutely crucial. If you don’t have the required amount of work experience for that program you have no chance of admission. Most top MBA programs require at least two or three years work experience. But on top of this, the type of experience you’ve had is what sets you apart from other applicants.
Schools will look at the reputation of your company, how quickly you’ve advanced in your career, and hints of you management and leadership potential from your recommendations. They are also interested in people who have achieved something unusual – have you started your own business, invented a new technology, or worked in an industry that is under-represented at the school?
Think carefully about who you want to write you recommendation letters, and what they should say. The more information you can give your referee, the easier it will be for them to help you shine.
Don’t be afraid to write down what makes you special and remind them of specific examples. Their letters are evidence of your application strengths, so make sure they show all the different elements that prove your ability and potential.
Make sure your show one or two friends or colleagues your application and get their opinion. But not too many people – if you make too many changes that aren’t in your own voice, it will seem like your personal essay has been written by a committee or computer program! Choose people who you know write well and can correct any spelling or grammar errors.
Your knowledge of the school will come through in your application, and especially in your interview. So research that program thoroughly.
Make sure you check out the impartial advice on StudyLink and join one of our forums to share questions and tips with our student advisors and other MBA applicants.
Clear Admit has a range of guide to the top MBA schools, covering the programs, demographics, campus life, job placements and the all important application process. Reading one of these guides is a lot quicker than trawling through a million websites – they’ve done all the hard work for you! You can buy these guides online here at StudyLink.
Make sure you send the school the things they need, when they need it. Missing a deadline is not a good look. But for schools with two rounds of deadlines, don’t rush to get into the first round of deadlines – if you need more time to write a better quality application, take it. There’s no real advantage to being early.
Clear Admit also provides one-on-one support for MBA applicants. Their insider understanding of the admissions process means they can provide feedback on your essay, recommendations and school selections, and even offer mock interviews to improve your techniques.
Most of all, remember it’s not always the ranking of the business school that counts. It’s what you want to get out of it, and where you will fit in the best. So start by searching all your MBA options on the StudyLink website, and see what is right for you!
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