It takes more than just good grades to get a coveted spot in the best business schools. You need to present yourself as an interesting and well-rounded person, one who can stand up to the rigors of the degree program and the business world. Not everyone who applies to business school gets accepted; in fact, the acceptance rates at the top 10 US business schools are lower than 25 percent, sometimes much lower. The good news is that acceptance rates overall are rising as online learning allows schools to accept more students. However, it’s important that you present yourself in the best possible light. How do you do that? Check out our 10 tips for navigating the MBA admissions process.
1. Determine Your Area of Study
You’ve made the first step in deciding to return to school to get your MBA. The next step is selecting the field of concentration that you want to get your degree in.
Choosing the specialization of your degree will allow you to determine which schools are the best options for you. If you have a background in human resources and want to use your degree to advance your career in that field, an MBA with a concentration in human resources management may be the best route for you to pursue. Maybe your area of expertise is in logistics and higher-level positions require a master’s degree. If so, a great option for you would be an MBA with a concentration in operations and supply chain management.
Spend time researching schools with degree options that best suit your needs.
2. Meet With Current or Former MBA Students
Current and former MBA students can be a big asset in helping you know what to include on your MBA application. Not every business school is going to be a good match for your experience, personality, and qualifications. Talking with some current students and alumni can give you a feel for the personality of the school and allow you to make a more informed decision about whether to apply.
3. Be Yourself In Your Essay Application and Interviews
Business schools are looking for individuals, not bots. It’s important to be authentic and not try to be someone you’re not in your essay and your interview. If your authentic self is not who the school is seeking, then you probably wouldn’t be happy in that MBA program anyway. More likely, your unique self will set you apart from other applicants.
4. Showcase Your Experience, Not Just Test Scores
As we stressed above, your grades and test scores are just a part of what makes you a desirable candidate for a school’s MBA program. Make sure to highlight your experience — both life and work experience. Were you an NCAA champion in college? Did you start a successful small business from your dorm room? Did you spearhead a fundraising project for your church? Find a way to include these things in your application.
5. Choose Your Recommenders Wisely
Your recommendation letters help admission officers confirm what they see on your application. Therefore, it’s important to choose your letter writers wisely. Ideally, they will be people who have worked with you either in school or in your business careers, such as bosses, professors, or business partners. Avoid getting someone to write a letter just because you know they will say yes. Make sure to pick the people who have the most useful experience with you.
6. Do Well in Your Undergrad Program
Your undergraduate grades may not be the only criteria the admissions committee looks at when they review your application, but it’s still very important. Set yourself up for success by concentrating on your studies from day one. In addition, be sure to review your school’s admissions policies and enrollment statements about the recognition of your work experience and industry success in consideration for acceptance.
7. Tout Your Work Experience
Your work experience can show admission officers how committed you are to a business career. However, business experience doesn’t have to be in an office. If your job requires you to delegate, manage people, or collaborate with other parts of the business, you have applicable experience.
Even if you are going to business school directly from your undergraduate studies, you likely have more ‘work’ experience than you may think. Have you volunteered for a charity or done work for your church? Did you manage a team to put out your school’s newspaper or yearbook? These are examples of applicable “work” experience that will help you stand out in the admissions process.
8. Write a Great Essay
Another important part of the MBA application process is the essay. Virtually all schools include one in their application process. This part of the application lets the admissions committee get a better idea of who you are, apart from the numbers on your grades and test scores. A great essay can be the deciding factor if you’re on the ‘bubble’ or if they are evaluating you compared to another applicant.
To write a great essay, make sure to stay focused on the question. According to MBA.com, applicants often wander away from the essay question in an effort to get as much information into the application as possible. Avoid this; it’s better to be concise and succinct. Another major stumbling block for essay writers is writing what you think the committee wants to hear. It’s much better to be authentic and let your personality shine through. Be sure to have someone proofread your essay before submission. You can benefit greatly from having another set of eyes on your work.
9. Tell a Compelling Story
Make sure that your voice and your story are consistent and compelling throughout your application. Ideally, you want each section of your application to build on the previous sections to create a cohesive and compelling story of who you are and what you’d like to do with your career and your life.
10. Meet Deadlines
Lastly, know all the application deadlines and make sure you meet them. You don’t want all of the hard work you put into the application process to go to waste because you didn’t get your paperwork in on time. Some schools have an admissions cycle that runs on strict annual deadlines. Other schools have rolling admissions, where applications are processed as they are received.
Earning your MBA at Johnson & Wales University
Johnson & Wales University offers both a one-year and a two-year MBA degree program. Either program may be completed online or in person at the university’s Providence campus.
The one-year program consists of key core classes with a low 15:1 student-to-instructor ratio. This degree program explores executive business competencies, professional leadership, and strategic and creative thinking skills, giving students the skills and information they need to pursue a variety of career paths.
Johnson & Wales’ two-year MBA program is more comprehensive and teaches students to critically analyze information through a business administration lens, solve high-level problems, and build the leadership and strategic skills they need to excel.
Learn more about earning your MBA degree at Johnson & Wales University. For more information about completing your degree online or on-campus, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].