Are you planning on applying Round 1 to MBA programs next fall? Now is the time to start planning for your application to increase your chances of acceptance. Here are five tips for doing a self-assessment as you decide on which schools you will focus on.
Your GMAT score should be no less than 30 points below the average listed for your target school. If your grade is lower than that, you can either alter your list of target schools and think about MBA programs that have lower GMAT averages or retain your list and take the GMAT again.
However, remember that your GMAT score is only one part of your application. Although your score may be low, you could excel in other areas, which could make up for your GMAT.
Adcoms also look at your undergrad GPA. Students with a GPA of 3.6 or above have a good chance of being admitted to the top schools. If you had a problematic semester or two which brought your GPA down, use the optional essay to talk about what you’ve done to rectify the situation. Let the adcom know if you retook some classes or enrolled in a continuing ed course to improve your skill set.
2. Work Experience
Top business schools usually want people who have 3-7 years of work experience. Some professions are highly represented. For example, the top professions pre-MBA at Harvard are consulting, financial services, VC/PE, and “High Tech/Communications.” At Wharton, they are consulting and military/government/non-profit, while Stanford attendees tend to come from consulting, VC/PE, and military/government/non-profit. However, if your background is in a different industry you can still be competitive.
MBA programs are also looking for diversity in order to have different points of view represented in classes. Showing how exceptional your accomplishments are and how your background will contribute to the diversity of the school will make you stand out.
3. International Experience
If you have international work or non-work experience to share, then you should certainly do so.
If your work or personal travels have never taken you outside your home country, then a) now may be a good time to take a trip, immerse yourself in a language course, or speak to your supervisors at work to see if there’s a need for you to go on an international assignment.
Your goals should make sense in connection to your past experience. There should be a clear link from your past to your future. This doesn’t mean that you can’t change your career; you just need to demonstrate to the adcom that you’ve already gotten experience in the industry, and that your prior experience will be a plus as you move toward your future.
The adcom will assess your employability. Will your background and an MBA make sense to recruiters?
If you’re an international student you may have a difficult time being hired by a company outside of the countries where you are already permitted to work – this is something you should be aware of and ready to address if questioned. Show flexibility in your application – express that you are prepared to return to your home country, get some experience and then use your own networking to find a job.
5. Fit & Familiarity
How familiar are you with the school’s curriculum and community? Are you an alumnus of the undergrad program? Have you ever worked in the city where the school is located? If your answer to any of these is “yes,” then you can make a case for fit and familiarity.
Another aspect to consider is your post-MBA plan. Are you experienced working in the school’s specialization? Do you have family or prior business contacts that would steer you toward settling in the school’s local after graduation? Do you have more of a big city or small town mentality?
This is the time to be honest with yourself. It is a good idea to visit campuses if you are able. School rankings and name recognition are important, but you need to find an environment in which you will thrive and be able to make to most of what the MBA experience has to offer.
Still have questions about assessing your MBA profile or about other aspects of the MBA admissions process? Download our free guide, MBA Action Plan, for tips that will help you jumpstart your MBA applications and put your plan into action.