My Journey: Applying To U.S. MBA Programs As An International Student

My Journey: Applying To U.S. MBA Programs As An International Student

Embarking on the path to pursue an MBA in the United States as an international student is an exciting and transformative journey. As an aspiring management consultant with a deep passion for transforming the healthcare landscape in Southeast Asia, I knew that an MBA would provide me with the necessary skills, knowledge, and network to make a significant impact.

In this article, I will share my personal journey and insights gained throughout the application process, including tips on preparing for the Graduate Management Admission Test, selecting the right schools, crafting a compelling personal essay, and seeking professional guidance.


My ultimate career goal was to transition into the field of management consulting, focusing on the healthcare sector in Southeast Asia. Among the top consulting firms, McKinsey stood out to me due to its renowned healthcare practice, which collaborates with both private and public healthcare organizations. Their track record of driving meaningful change resonated deeply with my aspirations to transform the healthcare landscape in Southeast Asia.

I was inspired by personal experiences that underscored the urgent need for change. Witnessing my father’s struggle to find affordable and quality healthcare in Indonesia when he fell ill was a wake-up call. He had to travel to Singapore to receive the care he needed, highlighting the stark disparities in access to healthcare in my home country. Additionally, during a visit to the rural part of Batam, just a one-hour ferry ride from Singapore, I observed firsthand the lack of basic infrastructure, including no proper toilets and intermittent electricity not allowing vaccine storage.

These experiences solidified my commitment to making a positive impact in healthcare and motivated me to pursue an MBA to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge.


Preparing diligently for the GMAT was a crucial step in my MBA application journey. To ensure I achieved a competitive score, I committed to a structured study plan. I dedicated 1.5 hours each day, supplemented by longer study sessions of 4 hours on weekends and public holidays.

This level of commitment required sacrificing social events, but witnessing progress in my simulated GMAT test scores surpassing 700 kept me motivated.

Additionally, it is important to understand the average GMAT scores of the schools you plan to apply to and aim to achieve or exceed those scores.


Selecting the right schools for my MBA applications was a thoughtful and strategic process. While my top favorites were Wharton and Harvard due to their brand reputation and extensive networks in Southeast Asia, I recognized the importance of diversifying my choices. Applying to a range of schools allowed me to explore different opportunities, resources, and networks.

I visited several campuses prior to submitting my applications to gain a sense of the campus life and even had the opportunity to engage with admissions directors, demonstrating my seriousness and enthusiasm for attending their institutions. One particular visit to Wharton solidified my choice as I witnessed firsthand the vibrant and inclusive community and the passion for making a positive impact on the world. The extensive network and access to cutting-edge resources further affirmed my decision to apply to Wharton and Harvard.

However, I understood the value of diversifying my bets, so I applied to five schools in total, ensuring I had a range of opportunities to consider.


Crafting a compelling personal essay was a critical component of my application. I wanted to convey my personal experiences and motivations that fueled my desire to transform the healthcare landscape in Southeast Asia. Drawing from my firsthand experiences of witnessing my father struggle to find affordable and quality healthcare in Indonesia, as well as observing the lack of basic infrastructure in rural areas, I conveyed my passion for making a positive impact.

These experiences served as a driving force behind my decision to pursue an MBA and inspired me to contribute to the growth and development of the healthcare industry. When selecting recommenders, I prioritized individuals who knew me well and could provide specific examples of my accomplishments and potential. Their insights added credibility and depth to my application, highlighting my unique strengths and potential as a future MBA candidate.


My journey applying to U.S. MBA programs as an international student has been an incredible experience of self-discovery, growth, and determination. From defining my career objectives to preparing for the GMAT, selecting the right schools, and crafting a compelling application, I have developed a deep understanding of the intricacies of the admissions process. Through dedication, perseverance, and the support of professionals, I successfully secured admission to my dream school.

At Rittenhouse MBA Consulting, we understand the challenges and aspirations of international students like you. We are dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of the application process and present your best self to the admissions committees of your dream schools. With our expertise and guidance, we can assist you in achieving your academic and professional goals. Our services include personalized coaching, essay editing, interview preparation, and comprehensive application guidance. Whether you need assistance with GMAT preparation, school selection, or crafting a compelling personal statement, our team of experienced consultants is ready to support you every step of the way.

Preparing for a U.S. MBA as an international student requires careful planning, thorough research, and strategic decision-making. By understanding the unique opportunities and challenges that come with pursuing an MBA in the US, you can position yourself for success. Utilize the resources available to you, seek guidance from professionals in the field, and leverage your personal experiences and aspirations to create a compelling application.

Remember, the journey to an MBA is not just about gaining admission to a prestigious program—it’s about acquiring the knowledge, skills, and network that will empower you to make a lasting impact in your chosen field. Embrace the challenges, stay focused, and believe in your ability to succeed. Your dream of pursuing an MBA in the U.S. as an international student is within reach. Start your journey today and open the doors to a world of opportunities and possibilities.

Edgar Iskandar is the co-founder of Rittenhouse MBA and has been helping many international students get into their dream MBA school. Originally from Indonesia, he came to the U.S. to pursue his MBA at Wharton. Following his MBA, he gained experience at McKinsey and currently holds the position of Marketing Strategy Director at Mailchimp. This piece was originally published by Rittenhouse MBA.

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