MBA Application Components
In addition to the standardized tests, there are several other components to your business school application you’ll want to prepare.
In order to complete your application, you will need to submit official transcripts from each institution at which you studied. Each transcript should contain a complete record of the studies to date at the institution from which it was issued, including the subjects taken and grades earned in each subject.
While the admissions committee may spend only a few seconds reviewing your resume, it’s crucial in creating that first impression of you as a person, employee and potential business school student. To make the best impression possible, provide details of your accomplishments, responsibilities and contributions. Where possible, use concrete numbers to demonstrate achievement. Be as thorough, but concise as possible, and include your strongest work at the top of your resume. This is also a great place to highlight your non-work related activities, such as community service, campus leadership, and special honors you’ve received.
Letters of Recommendation
You will need to submit at least two letters of professional recommendations from people who have supervised your work and/or assessed your performance during your career. Schools will be hoping to discover specific descriptions and examples illustrating your potential to make a difference in the world. Choose individuals who know you well, and who will take the time to write thorough, detailed letters with specific anecdotes and examples. The strongest references will demonstrate your leadership potential and personal qualities. And remember, schools are impressed by what the letter says and how it reads, not by the title of the person who writes or the native language of the recommender.
It is extremely helpful to be aware of what types of questions you will be asked. Although many schools change their essay questions from year to year, by reading a prior year’s application, you will get a good idea of the types of stories you will need. Most schools will post the previous year’s essay questions on their admissions site. At their core, however, most essay questions are designed to elicit a very fundamental set of information — why do you need an MBA, why now, and why from us? Here, the admissions committee is looking for unequivocal evidence of your professional maturity, as shown by your clarity of purpose.
Many schools will allow you to submit an “optional” essay. This is the perfect vehicle for explaining any major weaknesses (low GPA, low GMAT score, gaps in work experience, etc.). You can also use the optional essay to highlight a strength in your candidacy that you didn’t disclose elsewhere in your application materials. While it’s easy to highlight your accomplishments, don’t be afraid of your weaknesses — everyone has them. You’re better off acknowledging your shortcomings, providing context for them, and demonstrating how you’ve worked to overcome them.
Most business schools will require an interview as part of the admissions process. You will either be invited to interview as a next step after you submit your application or some schools allow you to request an interview.
Much like the written essay questions, the admissions interview will likely focus on addressing the questions of why you want an MBA, what you will do with your degree, why you want to attend that particular school and whether a particular school is a good fit.
But while the interview gives the admissions committee an opportunity to glean more information about you as a candidate, it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the school, and ask questions about the program.
Be sure you come prepared with questions — it shows the interviewers you are thoughtful and serious about this decision. Don’t waste the opportunity by asking something you already know the answer to or could easily find by doing a little research. Instead, focus on questions that really matter to your experience as a student and what you hope to achieve.
It’s also important to follow up after an interview with a thank you letter, which demonstrates your gratitude for the time to be considered, your professionalism, and can act as a reinforcement of your qualifications. Be brief, but specific and sincere.
Need more help?
Admissions Consultants (Fee for Services)
Some candidates seek the help of experienced professionals for essay editing or candidacy guidance. Many firms offer a free 30 minute session which can be a useful way to unearth any weaknesses in your candidacy. Check out a full list of AIGAC member consultants.
The following are MBA Admission Consultants who provided program content for 2013 Forté MBALaunch: