How to get accepted in a top business school in 10 steps
Do you want to get accepted in a top business school? Are you willing to do what it takes to get into the MBA program of your dreams? Here are ten steps you can take to make sure that you are properly prepared when applying.
1) Download admission booklets
The first step in your business-school application process is to download and read through all of your target schools’ admission booklets. This will give you an idea of what they look for, how they want you to apply, and how much they cost. It’s an excellent way to do some research ahead of time on each school. You can also find answers to questions like: What kind of background or profile are these schools looking for? What about numbers? How many people actually get into these programs? And what goes into preparing such an application?
2) Read them thoroughly
Top business schools receive thousands of applications. Review their website and make sure you understand all admission requirements for your program of choice. Familiarize yourself with any new regulations or initiatives for example, if you’re planning on applying as an international student, review immigration policies before completing your application.
Remember that admissions oﬃcers are familiar with many applicants and read only a fraction of your resume they’re looking for fresh insight into what makes you stand out from other candidates. So don’t just regurgitate achievements and experiences found on your resume; come up with interesting facts about yourself to share in your essays and interviews. For example, be funny about something in your background that shaped who you are today or explain how a diﬃcult experience taught you valuable lessons. Personalization is everything.
3) Make sure your grades and test scores are above average
Top business schools are ultra-competitive and they want students who are high achievers. Be sure your GPA and GMAT scores demonstrate that you’re smart, motivated, and hardworking. Otherwise, it’s going to be very diﬃcult for you to be admitted into one of these elite institutions or at least it will be much more diﬃcult than it should be.
4) Write an essay you can be proud of
The essay is your chance to show oﬀ your writing skills, show how you think analytically, explain what makes you special but it’s also your last opportunity to impress an admissions oﬃcer and it may be their only chance to consider you. Because they can’t hear your voice or see how smart you are in person, admissions oﬃcers are going on a tiny amount of information: Who are these people? Are they as awesome as their résumés claim? How do we know if their brains live up to our standards? That’s where essays come in. And that means that writers matter: If your essay sucks, there’s a good chance you won’t get into many schools. On top of all that, most essays will have some sort of word count limit so tight that being concise becomes a huge virtue; being able to say something meaningful but simple matters a lot when you don’t have much room for words.
5) Stand out during interviews
It’s important to make a good impression during interviews, but there are also some general things you can do that will set you apart from other candidates. Make sure your shoes are clean and polished, and if they aren’t already, start getting into a routine of regular exercise and healthy eating. You should also try to maintain an even temperament when speaking with interviewers; studies have shown that people who smile more frequently are considered more trustworthy than those who don’t.
6) Network everywhere you go
Get out there and meet people. Be involved with your local chapter of (insert relevant professional association here). Make friends with fellow professionals at industry events and meetings. The more people you know, and who know you, the better your chances are of getting into a prestigious MBA program when it’s time to apply. Remember, there’s no way around it: It is as simple as that. If networking sounds like something fake or insincere, think again. You can take it to any level you can be sweetly sincere about how excited you are to be introduced to everyone on campus, or you can just go for broke; whatever feels comfortable but don’t avoid networking opportunities because they don’t feel natural at first. Strive for authenticity, but remember: These important connections will help determine whether or not an admissions committee thinks it should admit you into their school.
7) Don’t forget extracurricular activities and recommendations
Extracurricular activities and recommendations from teachers, alumni, etc. are also important. It shows you’re well-rounded, organized, and have developed leadership skills. Being involved with a variety of organizations (both on campus and through your own initiative) is essential to success both inside and outside of work. Check out our post on extracurricular activities for some great ideas on how you can be involved! Also remember that not every opportunity will be available to you especially if you don’t live in a big city or attend an elite college. But don’t worry, there are lots of other opportunities that we haven’t covered here. You might start a local non-profit organization or join professional associations (e.g., ASME) that help members network.
8) Learn how to sell yourself, don’t be afraid to brag
When you are applying for a business school, it is crucial that you make them see your value and why they should accept you. Talk about what sets you apart from other candidates. Tell them how important they have been on your life and emphasize how much of an impact they will have on yours if you attend their institution. No one wants an average candidate, so don’t act like one. There is always someone better than you, but there isn’t someone who works harder than you. Let schools know just how hardworking and driven you really are. Showcasing these qualities are a good way to convince admissions committees that you will be successful in whatever career path after graduation.
9) Do something unusual
Though grades are important, admissions oﬃcers are looking for students who are diﬀerent from their peers. If you want to stand out, do something unusual and extra-curricular run marathons or triathlons, learn Russian so you can read Dostoevsky in its original form, join your high school’s dance team and compete on ESPN. It’s not about seeing how smart you are; it’s about showing that you challenge yourself, that you live outside of your comfort zone (and enjoy doing it).
10) If you failed the GMAT – retake it!
It’s no surprise that if you want to enter a top MBA program, your GMAT score is one of, if not THE most important factor. But how do you know if you’re truly ready for it? And what should you do if things don’t go as planned and you need to retake it? Here are our ten tips on getting into a top business school with just one (or more) chance at taking that all-important test. We’ve also included some information on retaking it in case you fall short initially.