3 Components of a Strong MBA Application
With extended deadlines and test waivers, business schools experienced a surge in MBA applications amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many applicants, the degree offers exclusive access to an expansive alumni network and better salary and job prospects. However, the surge in MBA applications during COVID-19 also means a more competitive application year. Andrew Jack, of Financial Times, spoke to admissions experts and alumni at top B-schools such as London Business School and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business what a successful MBA application looks like.
Experts say fit is one of the key aspects that admissions officers look for in applicants. An application that appears templated often can do more harm than good.
“Don’t make the mistake of using the same application and trying to retrofit it. Different schools have very different cultures which will dictate your experience,” Tarini Sundar, a Kellogg MBA, tells FT.
In addition to online research, experts recommend that applicants reach out and connect with current MBA’s to better understand of a B-school’s culture and community.
“They are the ones who lived the program and will answer honestly how they navigated it . . . and areas for improvement,” Donna Swinford, associate dean for student recruitment and admissions at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, tells FT.
While admissions officers treat the GRE and the GMAT equally in their admissions decisions, some experts highlight the difficulty of the GMAT as a distinguishing factor. This is because the exam tests more quantitative knowledge and requires test takers to complete it without skipping steps or changing answers.
“The GMAT remains the ‘tried and true’ entrance exam for business schools—the admissions team will have no questions about why you chose it,” explains Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting. “If you are a great test-taker and it’s all the same to you, I would stick with the GMAT.”
SIMPLE & AUTHENTIC
When it comes to MBA essays, simplicity and authenticity are key.
London Business School requires applicants to write a 500-word essay answering what their post-MBA goals are and how their prior experience and the LBS program will contribute towards those goals.
David Simpson, recruitment and admissions director at London Business School, tells FT that a strong admissions essay consists of the following: “simplicity, clarity, [and] honesty — let your personality shine through.”