MBA Application

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Applying to Business Schools is a long and tedious process. Here’s some advice from the pros:

Start early. One year before classes begin is a good time, but as an international student, you better start even before. Be aware that the process is slightly longer for non-US citizens (because of the TOEFL, translations, earlier admission deadlines, etc).

Apply early. Usually Business School’s have some sort of limit or pre-set number of students accepted from each country. Applying early, then, has an even better impact for foreigners than for Americans.

Choose a manageable number of schools. Applying to more than 5 or 6 schools not only costs a lot of money, but will decrease the quality of your application and preparation. Assess your background (GPA, GMAT, quantity and quality of work experience) and choose a couple of schools that seem within your range. Then you can add a couple of schools with harder criteria, and a couple with easier criteria (you never know).

Aim high. It is said tWhat it is easier for foreign students to get in than it is for Americans (you are competing with fewer people). The chances improve when economic crises strike your region. So, even if you do not think you can get in a top school, you might be wrong.

Turn Failure Into a Great Business School Admissions Essay...

It’s the dreaded failure topic: “Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed.” MBA applicants often freak out when faced with this common admissions essay question because they fear that showing any weakness will torpedo their admissions chances. However, at one point or another, everyone faces adversity, failure or setbacks, whether at work or in life. Your response to these situations demonstrates your character, and business schools understand that failure represents a learning opportunity. This essay is your chance to demonstrate your maturity, flexibility and leadership qualities. Leaders aren’t always successful; rather, they are willing to admit to failure and find motivation in their misfortune. So how do you tell the business school admissions committee how failure has truly affected you? First, start with some real introspection. It’s important to use a failure that is emotionally important to you. Your failure should also be real and something that led you to gain some insight about yourself. The negative situation could have led to a transformative experience for your team, a positive opportunity for someone else or a chance for you to better understand another person through a team challenge. The admissions committee will easily see through an accomplishment that you frame as a failure; furthermore, that will not demonstrate your maturity or ability to grow. Think creatively about this aspect – do your best to describe how you have changed your approach as a result of the failure. When brainstorming for this essay, think first about what you learned from the situation you plan to detail; then work backward to describe the circumstances and the initial challenge or hurdle. That will help you more optimistically view the whole situation. What did you learn from...

Your guide to acing an MBA interview

The average MBA interview lasts about 45 minutes. In those 45 minutes, you’ll need to convince the school that they were correct in showing interest in you and that you’ll be able to contribute something meaningful to the cohort that they’re designing for the next year. While the essays tend to be the part of the MBA application process that causes the most trouble for applicants, the interview tends to cause the most confusion as applicants struggle to know how to prepare. Over the years, we’ve developed some proven techniques to help applicants breeze through the interview for their top choice MBA program. Follow our Five Ps to guide you in acing your MBA interviews. PREPARE There’s no way around it. In order to have the answers you need on hand, you’ll need to prepare. Know your resume back and forth—this means you’ll also need to prepare anecdotes about times you’ve experienced failure, faced ethical dilemmas or received negative feedback. In addition, have a set of questions that you’d like to ask the interviewer. If you can work them into the interview, great. If not, then the interviewer will likely ask you at the end of the interview if there’s anything else you’d like to know about the program. You can ask your questions then. PRACTICE The anecdotes that you choose to prepare for the interview might sound great in your head or look good on paper, but you won’t know how they’re going to perform during the interview until you practice saying them aloud. You shouldn’t memorize your anecdotes or your responses to likely questions in the interview process—you’ll sound stilted and a little fake. However, you should have the basic storyline down pat and be able to...

When Is The Best Time To Apply For Your MBA?

The business school application process is intense, and with good reason. Getting an MBA is a significant investment in time and money. Going into the process without giving it a lot of thought beforehand is a recipe for disaster. If you aren’t prepared for the b-school experience, you won’t be able to take full advantage of the opportunity. But when you go into it deliberately, after a lot of careful thought, getting an MBA can be a life and career-changing move. Here are five questions you need to be able to answer “yes” to, before you’re ready to apply: 1. Do you know your post-MBA goals? It’s not a good idea to go to business school in order to figure yourself out, or to get away from the working world for a bit. Most MBA programs move very fast, and if you want to take full advantage of the experience, you’ll need to have a plan. Think about where you want to be in five years. Not just in your career, but where in the world you want to be, and what you want your life to look like. Do you want to work globally, start a business of your own or move into higher management positions within your current organization? 2. Do you know how an MBA will help you accomplish those goals? Lower-tier schools and diploma mills may be happy to admit anyone who seems interested and can foot the bill, but top business schools want to know that you have given a lot of thought to the prospect of getting an MBA. They are looking for students who will take the opportunity seriously, and reflect well upon the school as alumni. When you know how an...

3 Ways International Students Can Strengthen U.S. MBA Applications...

The U.S. is a popular destination for those from around the globe who want to pursue higher education, and prospective business school students are helping lead the trend of studying in the U.S. Fifty-two percent of prospective students for graduate business programs attempted to study outside their country of citizenship, up from 40 percent in 2010, according to the most recent data from the Graduate Management Admission Council. This growth is seen mostly among Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern citizens, the report states, and the U.S. is the top region of choice. “Schools want diversity in their programs. You want people from all different places,” says Erin Town, director of MBA admissions at University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. With such a strong interest in U.S. MBA programs from overseas candidates, getting into school is often a competitive process for international applicants. Business school admissions experts offered these three tips to help prospective students improve their chances of getting accepted. 1. Connect with current students: Prospective MBA candidates interested in Foster, which typically has between 30 and 35 percent of full-time MBA students who are international, should try to speak with current students from a similar background, says Town. “If you can talk with someone who’s from your home country and get a feel for their experience here, what they like about the program, how they’re spending their time,” and then mention the conversation in an application, she says, “that really impresses us and shows us they’re very interested in Foster.” When 30-year-old Ting Tseng was applying to business school, speaking with students helped her decide which program to attend. “I talked to several Foster alumni, and they were all very helpful and willing to share,” says Tseng, a...

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.”...

11 MBA Programs With the Highest GMAT Scores

Preparing for the GMAT can be a tiring process, but scoring high is critical to gaining admittance to a top-ranked MBA program. At the 11 schools with the highest GMAT scores, incoming full-time students in fall 2015 had an average score of 715 or higher on the admissions exam, which has a maximum score of 800. Stanford University had the highest average GMAT score – 733 – among the 129 business schools that submitted this data. While the average GMAT score at Stanford rose by one point from its 2014 class, the school dropped a spot in the U.S. News Best Business Schools rankings, tying for No. 2. Harvard University, which took over the No. 1 spot in the rankings this year, had an average GMAT score of 725 – one point lower than its fall 2014 average. Harvard Business School also had more full-time students enroll in fall 2015 than any other school that submitted this data, boasting a class of 937. Among all the MBA programs that provided data on GMAT scores, the average was 630, much lower than the 722 average among the top 11. Below are the 11 business schools with the highest average GMAT scores for incoming full-time students in fall 2015. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report. Business school (name) (state) Incoming full-time enrollment (fall 2015) Average GMAT score U.S. News b-school rank Stanford University (CA) 733 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 732 University of Chicago (Booth) 726 Harvard University (MA) 725 Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL) 724 Yale University (CT) 721 New York University (Stern) 720 Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH) 717 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) 716 Columbia...

3 interview questions every applicant to Columbia b-school must nail...

If you have your sights set on Columbia, it pays to be ready for the kinds of questions they’ll ask during the interview process. Columbia is unique among top business schools in that they don’t require an applicant to undergo an interview as a requirement for admission. However, being granted an interview can be a good sign in Columbia’s notoriously competitive process. Typically, between 5,500 and 7,000 applications to the business school are received each year. In 2010, for example, only 15% were accepted. So answering questions in the right way is key. Here are three sample interview questions from Columbia business school interviews — and tips on how to navigate each. 1. What kind of leader are you? Although this is an open-ended question, it’s best to respond with a concrete example. Giving a list of adjectives, such as “goal-oriented,” “collaborative” or “future-focused,” won’t set you apart from the crowd as much as a brief yet specific story that illustrates the kind of leader you are. Columbia is looking for high-impact leaders who seek out to achieve results — and who get them. However, the way you pursue those results is also important. The school wants students who can work well together on teams and who can leverage the best of what each person brings to the table; after all, these are skills that will serve well not only in the learning community but also in the business world beyond. Make sure to include results in your response. Since Columbia wants high-impact leaders, show how your efforts made a positive impact on a situation or group of people. A good response might include something like, “I am proud to report that we were able to raise $75,000 in...

Prepare for Short Answer MBA Application Essay Questions...

Ten years ago, lengthy MBA essays were a staple of business school applications. Flash forward to today, and admissions departments worldwide have reduced the word count and number of essays candidates must tackle. Whether the influence is social media, with its condensed communication style, or simply that the admissions committee has grown weary of reading thousand-word essays from thousands of applicants, it seems short and sweet is here to stay. Many applicants struggle with short-answer essay questions because they feel like they cannot adequately convey everything they want the admissions committee to know in so few words. The challenge of these brief prompts is to give the admissions committee what they ask for while still providing a compelling snapshot of yourself. I always advise applicants to do two things as they work on their MBA essays: make sure to answer the question asked and spend a lot of time brainstorming up front. You would be amazed at how many applicants start to answer an essay prompt and veer off-subject entirely. With such a limited word count, even answering a “why” question with a “how” response will be a turnoff to the admissions officer reviewing your application. The brainstorming phase is the same whether you have a word count of 750 or 200. First, find a theme, or a couple of main points, you want to convey. Consider the essay set for each MBA application as a whole, and make sure your answers do not overlap but rather build upon each other. Then whittle away anything non-essential, and always avoid the passive voice as it eats up valuable space in your allotted word count. Whenever possible, share details that show a glimpse of your personal interests or something amazing that...

Acing the MBA Admissions Essay

If you’re working on an essay for an MBA program this application season, here’s one big tip: do not mention Hitler when you’re writing about leadership. Julie Barefoot, admissions director at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, said that receiving a leadership essay about Hitler was the most egregious mistake she ever saw in an MBA application essay. “It showed horrible judgment,” Barefoot says. “Inappropriate on every level.” Most MBA applicants probably know not to make this mistake–and if they didn’t know before, they do now. But the Hitler essay mistake is a manifestation of a problem that admissions directors say they see on a smaller scale with many applicants’ essays: poor judgment. “The jobs that our MBA students are getting are very meaningful jobs. These are big jobs. They certainly can affect or impact people’s lives,” Barefoot says. “[Therefore we’re looking for] good judgment, strong analytical skills. These are all things we look for in an application. Not all of those are characteristics you can discern in an essay, but a lot of them you can.” An essay is just one part of an MBA application, alongside letters of recommendation, GMAT scores, resumes, work experience and GPAs. Essays can ask applicants to address a variety of topics, including their post-business school plans, their greatest achievements, and their role models. But all admissions essays have one thing in common: they present an opportunity for students to inject a personal flair into the impersonal numbers and lists of internships that comprise the rest of an application. Schools therefore use the essays to assess candidates’ intangible qualities, such as whether they will participate well in class, interact positively with professors, impress recruiters and ultimately enhance the schools’ reputation and brand when they join...

Avoid These 10 Mistakes in MBA Application Essays...

The essay component of the MBA application is a chance to really wow the admissions committee and stand out from potentially thousands of other candidates with similar GMAT scores or GPAs. There are many ways to craft a stellar essay that will give the reader a better sense of who you are, but there are also several mistakes to avoid as you’re answering these required prompts. Make sure you sidestep the following pitfalls at all costs. 1. Neglecting to answer the question: Applicants often become so determined to drive home a particular point, or worse, drift off into a tangent, that they fail to succinctly answer the question. Don’t answer with “what” when the question asks “how?” or “why?” Business schools create their essays with the goal of finding out how you fit their program, and not answering the question immediately indicates poor fit. 2. Using industry jargon or pretentious language: Never assume the admissions committee member reviewing your application is intimately familiar with your particular industry. Write for a lay audience, and avoid flowery or stuffy language – use familiar words instead. With hundreds of applications on their desks, the admissions staff has only a few minutes to review each essay. It should be immediately digestible. 3. Basing essays on ​what you think the admissions committee is looking for: Even if you have a pretty good idea of what a particular business school looks for in MBA candidates,​ this isn’t the time to remake yourself into what you think their ideal student would be. This is a major pet peeve of the admissions committee, which is why they have gone to great lengths recently to come up with creative essay prompts. Stay true to yourself and your professional...

4 characteristics Wharton looks for in top MBA candidates...

Every MBA program has a personality — and some candidates are a better fit for certain schools than for others. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is no exception. After more than 15 years of helping our clients receive highly coveted admissions letters to Wharton, we’ve pulled together some key characteristics that, together, paint a unique picture of what Wharton is looking for in MBA students. Before we launch into the list, one caveat: Knowing what a particular business school is looking for isn’t an opportunity to re-make yourself into what you think their “ideal” student would be. Rather, it’s a chance to find a learning community that values your strengths and where you can make a positive contribution with the unique skills, experiences, and perspectives you bring to the table. If you have your sights set on Wharton, here are a few qualities that successful MBA candidates often have in common. If your values and Wharton’s line up, Wharton might be a great fit for you — and you might be a great fit for their world-renowned MBA program. Here are four characteristics that Wharton looks for in MBA candidates: 1. An innovative mindset “Innovation” is such a buzzword today that it’s commonly used to describe almost everything. But at Wharton, the willingness to take an innovative approach is something they not only look for in prospective MBA candidates — it’s also a standard they hold themselves to, starting with their MBA admissions process. For example, Wharton was one of the first business schools in the US to pioneer a new team-based conversation as part of the interview process, to gauge how candidates express their ideas and relate to others in a conversation that mirrors those they’d have...

MBA Applications: What to do About Low Work Experience...

Business schools don’t like to admit students with less than two years of experience–but they will if a candidate really shines. As an undergrad, Nik Hazell was attending Oxford University as a rower and engineering student when he was injured during the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race. Hazell suddenly found himself with more time in his schedule. He wanted to stay at Oxford for his masters, and he cast around for the right academic path for him. An MBA from Oxford’s Saïd Business School sounded appealing, but Hazell had a problem: he had never worked in business, save for one week at a finance firm. Less than one percent of students admitted to Saïd have under two years of work experience, but Hazell says the admissions committee was impressed by his ability to balance rowing and engineering during his prior Oxford career. “Without juggling the extracurricular activity and his academics, they wouldn’t have considered me,” says Hazell, who ended up earning a place in the course and is now pursuing his MBA. “It showed that I could juggle a lot.” Many MBA programs do not publish hard and fast rules about minimum full-time work experience, but most internationally accredited business schools say they prefer at least two years, and many schools admit classes with average overall work experience of five to six years. Hazell’s story is an illustration of a principle espoused by MBA admissions directors: if a student with less than two years of work experience wants to apply for an MBA, he or she must be exemplary. Anna Farrus, head of admissions at Oxford – Saïd, says a strong academic background, scholarships like the Rhodes, internships and part-time work experience can help sway an admissions committee towards accepting...