Traits Business Schools Seek In Applicants


Traits Business Schools Seek in Applicants

MBA admissions is holistic, which means admissions officers look beyond just test scores and GPA when considering applicants.

US News recently highlighted key qualities that B-schools look for in applicants—from leadership to communication skills.


Evidence of leadership is critical when applying to B-school. In fact, many argue that it’s the most important factor.

“For years I have always said that leadership is the most important element in a business school application. And that’s always been the hardest to define,” says Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions, a California-based consultancy that helps applicants get into B-school, says.

Matt Symonds, Co-Founder and Director of Fortuna Admissions, recommends identifying stories of specific scenarios in your professional experience that demonstrate strong leadership potential.

“With some examples in mind, begin to sketch your stories from the big picture to detail, but make sure you can set the scene and get to the point quickly,” Symonds says. “You should be able to convey what you did, why you did it, the impact on others, and the final outcome. Think about recent, positive situations and make sure your stories have a beginning, middle, and end.”


Too often, applicants get caught up in trying to make the ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ MBA application. In reality, admissions officers prefer genuine and authentic stories.

“We want applications, specifically the required essays and interviews, to be authentic and we encourage applicants to avoid generic responses,” says Steve Thompson, senior director of full-time admissions at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Nellie Gaynor, MBA admissions counselor at college consulting firm and former associate director of admissions at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, says applicants should utilize the personal statement to tie all the pieces of the MBA application together.

“Don’t tell the story that you think the admissions committee wants to hear,” Gaynor says. “Be genuine and share your unique story. Craft a narrative that connects the dots of your background and previous life experiences to your future career goals (and) that demonstrates self-awareness and thoughtfulness.”


At the end of the day, B-schools want students who fit their values and can contribute to their community. Whether it’s in your essays, recommendation letters, or interviews, be sure to align your goals and ambitions to the B-school that you’re applying to.

“Pursuing an MBA also means joining a lifelong network,” Colin Davis, senior director of marketing and operations for MBA programs at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, says. “We want to understand how candidates resonate with our community values, such as curiosity, diverse perspectives, flexibility and a pay-it-forward mentality.”

Sources: US NEWS

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