Business school hopefuls, particularly those targeting elite programs, often fall prey to certain admissions myths circulating the interwebs. Today, we’re going to do a little myth-busting of five common misconceptions about the MBA application process. By setting the record straight, we hope to calm the nerves of many worried b-school aspirants.
Myth #1: Business school prepares students to work in only a few fields.
In the past, an MBA degree helped boost the careers of professionals primarily focused on banking and consulting. These days, people heading to b-school are interested in entrepreneurship, healthcare, technology, human resources, real estate, marketing, non-profits, entertainment, and much more.
Even if you work in a field that doesn’t traditionally require an MBA degree, you may still benefit from it. This is especially true if your career goals include rising to senior management within your company or starting your own company. Seek out people who are pursuing your target career at any level. It’s a great way to understand what you need to do to accomplish your goals.
According to MBA.com, the degree is incredibly valuable right now because it allows graduates to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace.
“COVID-19 is impacting many industries and job functions. Having an MBA—not to mention the MBA network that comes along with it—will enhance a graduate’s ability to deftly pivot their career path in a direction that will enable continued professional development.”
Myth #2: I won’t be successful because I don’t have a business background.
This is one of the most common MBA admissions myths that we’d like to debunk permanently. Admissions teams continue to ramp up efforts to attract non-traditional applicants to their MBA programs, says the Graduate Management Admission Council. These prospective students bring unique experiences and skills to business school and the business world.
Applicants with unconventional or less traditional work or academic experience before business school often worry about how admissions committees will assess their records. However, it’s more than okay to be different. No MBA program wants to fill an entire class solely with candidates from investment banking or consulting. In fact, non-traditional applicants often stand out in the MBA admissions process.
Such applicants bring different perspectives to classroom discussions, which enhances the learning environment for all. Working in diverse teams is one of the most effective ways to learn essential soft management skills.
Myth #3: High rankings mean the school must be better for me.
The majority of applicants fall for admissions myths such as this one. But, you should determine if a school is better in ways that suit your list of priorities. Job placement statistics and average salary post-MBA are the most important criteria for many MBA candidates. You may find that a smaller regional school, while not highly ranked nationally, has an excellent record of placing graduates in the industries of their choice.
Ensure you’re looking at the data points necessary to your career path when determining a particular ranking’s value. Don’t worry about whether you’ll get into the best MBA program of all. Figure out which business school is the best one for you.
Myth #4: I don’t have a perfect GPA or GMAT. So, good schools won’t accept me.
While it’s natural to become hung up on achieving the highest score possible or fixate on the average GMAT score reported by the schools, we urge test-challenged clients to focus instead on aligning their scores within the 80 percent range. Many schools list this information directly within their class profiles.
Are you worried that your ho-hum undergrad performance will hamper your chances of getting into a top MBA program? The most important thing is to show exceptional focus and leadership skills in your career and openly acknowledge to the admissions committee the reason for your lackluster college GPA.
The admissions process is a complex one. So, do the best you can on the GMAT, but then focus on developing your personal brand. Figure out how to package your goals, passions, work experience, and “why business school, why now” into a compelling case for your admission. In the end, your exceptional accomplishments will likely shine through despite some academic challenges.
Myth #5: Business school is too expensive, and I can’t afford it.
Worthy applicants often get scared off of applying to a top school, fearing the expense will be too great to bear. This is one of the most pervasive MBA admissions myths out there. But, the good news is, there are several options available to help you pay for your MBA.
Plus, scholarships for MBA students have increased in recent years. Our client pool received $4.8 million in scholarship dollars last season. Scholarship awards for our clients overall have risen by 10 percent annually over the past three years. About 20-25% of SBC clients receive scholarships ranging between $10,000 to full-ride offers valued at $200,000.
Finally, cash-strapped applicants should take heart. Many top schools will work with applicants to ensure cost is not a barrier to attending.
In fact, in an interview with Bloomberg, former Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria said: “What we’re looking for is the brightest people with great leadership potential. And I promise you, if you apply to Harvard Business School you will be able to attend irrespective of your financial needs.”