Application to a business school - quick overview
Procedures for applying to enter an MBA program vary - however these are the common aspects. You may not require all of them in all situations. Here are some of our tips:
The Application Form
Your form should be clear, complete and neat. The application should give a clear picture of who you are when read quickly by someone who does not know you. Avoid misspellings and write in pen.
- Spend sufficient time and fill the form out as completely as possible. This is the first hurdle and if you fail here, you are unlikely to be given further consideration.
- Photocopy the blank form several times and fill out several drafts before you fill out the copy to submit. Get someone to look at your drafts - preferably someone who doesn't know you too well and who can therefore see the document as an admissions person in the school might see it.
- If you are applying to a school in another country - remember that you might not get an interview - so the application documents are particularly important.
- If the application form refers to interviews and you are in another country - offer to be interviewed by telephone, video conference, and/or by a local alumnus of the school.
The Resume or CV
If a separate personal resume or CV is required, it should be:
- Concise and neat (not handwritten).
- Present you - as a person - clearly.
- Be specific - saying what you have done, learnt and accomplished.
- Show evidence of your managerial and leadership skills.
- Show evidence that you are a good 'group worker' - most programs will need you to work in this way.
- Highlight specific skills and abilities that will differentiate you from others and make you stand out from the crowd.
If it is about you, it should do all the things which are listed above for the resume - but it is also a test of your writing ability so it should also...
- Be well structured and logical (check spelling and syntax. Get someone to read it before you submit it.
- Present your strengths but recognize your weaknesses. Address how doing the program will address and contribute to further developing your strengths and strengthening your weaknesses.
- Indicate what you would bring to the program - i.e. how you would be an asset to it , and subsequently to the school as an alumnus.
- Express your views and opinions.
- Address all the specific topics requested or suggested by the school - make a check-list and make sure you cover all items, preferably in the order the school presented them.
- Follow the school's requirements in regards line spacing, margins etc - and especially any word limit.
- Dont use 'mass produced' or 'off the peg' essays.
- Use a professional tone.
Letters of Recommendation/References
Take care to pick the right people to comment about you:
- Choose people who know you and who like you.
- Choose people in business or education, i.e. with job titles which will be recognized by the school.
- Ask them before and thank them afterwards (preferably when you have the result of the application).
- Brief them, but don't tell them what to write.
- Tell them their input is important and not just a formality.
- Choose people who will give the letter proper consideration and do a good job.
You will be asked to submit an official transcript from every undergraduate and graduate institution you have attended, regardless of whether you received a degree from the institution. This can require a lot of legwork and time on your part, especially if you have attended several schools. Again, don't wait until the last-minute. Many schools will only accept written transcript requests, so you might not be able to call your college's registrar and handle this task over the phone.
You will more than likely be required to take tests - GMAT, TOEFL etc. Be sure to:
- Practice before and as much as possible. To many schools the GMAT or GRE is an important indication of your future success in the program.
- Remember the normal test/exam guidance: pace yourself, try to complete the full questionnaire/test.
- Schools which use tests attach a lot of importance to them - so should you. Tests (especially GMAT) are a convenient filter for them to reduce a very large number of applicants to a smaller group for closer scrutiny.
- You should plan to register for the GMAT/GRE test at least one month before you plan to take it.
- GMAT scores are valid for five years after the test date.
If you get this far - you are shortlisted. It is the critical stage.
- Think about some of the questions you might be asked and consider how you would answer them.
- The interviewer wants to see what you are like - they do not want an act. They will be trying to decide whether you would 'fit' the program, what you would contribute etc.
- Dress professionally. First impressions are important.
- Give yourself sufficient time to get to the interview. You do not want to be late.
- Show that you have done your 'homework' e.g you have gathered information on the school and the program.
- When at the end you are asked if you have any questions make sure to ask some thoughtful, prepared questions and are open-ended. This allows the interviewer to talk more about the program and shows you have done your research.
- Dont behave/question/discuss as if you expected to be accepted.
- Know about the cost/fees/funding issues. The interview is not the time to get into details. The interviewer is not there to help you solve your financial problems.
- Remember the key questions that you will more than likely be asked - 'Why do you want to do this MBA?. 'Why do you want to do it now?' 'Why have you chosen this school?'
Funding and Scholarships
MBA programs are expensive.You will want to be sure that you can afford it , and the school to which you apply will want to be sure also.
- Make sure you know all the cost implications. The fees are just a part of what it will cost you. If you need a grant or scholarship - start looking early.
- Research sources of scholarship information.
- Some schools will have scholarship or financial assistance programs. Make you you obtain all the details before you get too far into the application process.
- If you are dependent on financial assistance - it may influence what places you can apply to. For example, school aid and financial assistance in your own country may only apply to certain program in particular countries. Make you you research this area prior to commencing your application process.