After assessing career goals and all the options of how to get there, you have decided on a graduate degree in business. It is not for everyone, but an MBA can mean better opportunities, career advancement, and double the earning potential of workers with an undergraduate degree in business. The next hurdle is the application process.
Admissions committees consider several factors when selecting students, and it all boils down to a single goal. They want students who augment the reputation of their program. Just as with potential employers, the committee is looking to see both whether students have the skills to succeed and how each future graduate will contribute to the program’s overall standing.
The GMAT score has become a standard consideration for applicants, but it is more analogous to a pass-fail course than a competitive ranking. Having a higher score after a certain point is unlikely to influence admissions. A low score on the other-hand, which is generally considered to be lower than the median 80 percent range for past accepted applicants, is a sure way to lose out in this competitive process.
Brochures from the school usually contain the median and range. It is a good idea to retest with scores falling below this range or if another area is particularly weak. GMAT can be taken multiple times, and colleges will usually allow students to specify the score they want to be considered by admissions. When it comes to individual sections, essays count very little, and math scores trump verbal.
Most schools are strict about requiring that applicants have a minimum of two years experience, and others require more. This is only the beginning of how prior experience will impact admissions, however. They will also look at job performance, advancement, the reputation of the employer, and salary increases.
Business schools want students who will later become assets to their future graduates. In other words, they want you to succeed so their future graduates will have better alumni contacts. In the name of diversity, schools sometimes choose students based off how many current students have similar backgrounds. You could be a software developer for a major firm and excel in every area of the application. You could still be turned down, because they already have an abundance of technology-oriented students.
A high GPA from undergrad studies is an asset, but it is less important than the course load. MBA faculty have learned that students entering with a poor background in math, often seen in less-than-stellar grades in calculus and microeconomics, tend to perform poorly in math-oriented graduate courses. Just as math scores on the GMAT are important, so too are math grades in undergrad. It may be worthwhile to augment the transcript with a couple of courses before the application deadline.
Getting accepted a great program is possible with a weakness in one of the above areas, and potential students are encouraged to play to their strengths. If work experience is a strength, for instance, it is a good idea to ask the admissions contact person at each school about the percentage of graduates with similar backgrounds.
Application essays are important, and letters of recommendation from former professors and employers are essential, yet the three areas above are how students are most expected to differentiate themselves. No one area is more important than another, and successful applicants will use strengths to their advantage in selecting potential programs.
Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below.