30 Tips For Your MBA Admissions Success

Fortune may favor the brave, but when applying to business school it is careful planning and meaningful self-reflection that win the day.

With round-one deadlines for the world’s top MBA programs less than six months away, this is the time to put together a plan for admissions success. You’ve got a lot of ground to cover:

• Introspection about your personal and professional goals

• Research to identify the schools that match your objectives

• Study for the GMAT or GRE, and any courses that boost your academic record

• Outstanding professional performance to strengthen letters of recommendation

• Purposeful community engagement and genuine leadership opportunities

• Outreach to b-school students and alumni combined with campus visits

That’s quite a to-do list, but MBA admissions success doesn’t just happen — you create it. And that means accepting all the challenges that are involved, and not just pursuing the ones you like.

You don’t have to go to business to make a success of your life, but this is your chance to shape your own path, and not rely on somebody else’s. To more accurately quote business philosopher Jim Rohn, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”

So where do you get started? Pursuing the theme of insightful quotes, I asked my colleagues at Fortuna Admissions for their advice, based on years of insider experience working in the admissions offices of the world’s top business schools.

Here are their 30 tips for MBA admissions success.

Self-Awareness And Defining Your Personal And Professional Goals

1. “Be your authentic self in your application. The most engaging candidates strip away the pretence, and don’t try to fit into a mould.” – Judith Silverman Hodara, Wharton

2. “Start with good questions — they are the best way to find great answers. Business schools want to know more about you than just your resume. They want to get a sense of what makes you tick. What do you want from your career? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What have you learned about yourself from times you have excelled and times you have failed? Don’t skimp on introspection—or waste the gift of choice.” – Caroline Diarte Edwards, INSEAD

3. “Spend time talking to many people in careers that seem interesting to you so that by the time you apply, you have a much better sense of your post-MBA plans. If you’re looking to make a career transition, consider speaking to people at your current company in positions that you’d like to go into after your MBA since they could be great resources that are highly accessible.” – Dina Glasofer, NYU Stern

4. “When talking about your long-term goals, think big. You will inspire the reader with your plans to change the world, not with your goal of retiring at 50. Find the thread that links your past decisions with your future goals. Make sure your story makes sense with a clear vision of where you want to go.” – Heidi Hillis, Stanford GSB

Selecting And Researching Your Target Schools

5. “Don’t settle for the ordinary — by definition a stretch school is within reach and by stretching yourself you will improve your reach. Believe in yourself, so that the admissions office can believe in you.” – Julie Ferguson, Chicago Booth

6. “Look beyond MBA rankings. List the factors most important to you and talk to students and alumni to help assess the fit.” – Dina Glasofer, NYU Stern

7. “Don’t settle for general statements about the school. Repeating well-known facts proves nothing. Identify and be able to explain your personal passion for the school.” – Karen Ponte, London Business School

Mastering The GMAT

8. “If you’re going through hell on data sufficiency or critical reasoning, keep going. You may have to fight the GMAT battle more than once to win it.” — Judith Silverman Hodara, Wharton

9. “Improving your GMAT score by 100 points is achieved in 10 point increments. Test success is the sum of small efforts practiced day in and day out.” – Cassandra Pittman, Columbia Business School...


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