More elite business schools seek to recruit top undergraduates.
Over the past decade, business schools have become increasingly keen to pique the interest of college senior MBA applicants. They realize that such candidates can make significant contributions to the classroom dynamic despite their lack of post-college professional experience.
You can find programs targeting younger candidates at several elite schools. Newer options include the Chicago Booth Scholars Program and the MIT Sloan MBA Early Admission program. Columbia Business School also has a deferred enrollment program, as does Stanford Graduate School of Business. The HBS 2+2 Program has been around since 2007. Meanwhile, the Yale Silver Scholars program is even older, having launched in 2004.
At SBC, our team includes the former HBS associate director of MBA admissions who helped launch the 2+2 program targeting college seniors.
College senior MBA applicants must demonstrate a high level of talent, academic strength, and promise if they hope to persuade a top-tier MBA program to take a chance on them.
“HBS’s college senior program, 2+2, is looking for all the same qualities and credentials as in the regular pool, but then they are also looking for scientists, engineers, techies, and entrepreneurs to name a few,” shared a former HBS Admissions Officer on the SBC team.
If you’re a college junior or senior wondering whether pursuing an MBA degree straight after college is the right move, you need to do some serious introspection. You must convince the MBA admissions committees that you don’t need those two-plus years in the workforce first. Show that you come armed with the knowledge, maturity, and experience that most people take those extra years to acquire.
“Show them that the deferred admission is an opportunity to take a risk and do something a little bit off the beaten path, i.e. not banking or consulting,” shared a former HBS Admissions Officer on the SBC team.
Here are three essential qualities you will need to demonstrate to admissions committees as a college senior MBA applicant.
Demonstrate maturity in your applications by showing that you have experience handling adult issues and problems. Also, make clear that you’re not intimidated by older, more senior professionals. Your letters of recommendation should address your level of maturity and focus. In particular, they should show how you compare to other people your age.
Possible recommenders might include a summer employer or internship supervisor. You want whoever you chose to be able to objectively assess your professional promise and comment on your managerial abilities.
Remember, maturity isn’t a matter of growing older—it’s about growing wiser. Obviously, you can’t focus on how long you’ve been doing something. So instead, demonstrate how you’ve grown. This could cover anything from your values to your view of the world.
It should go without saying, but make sure your MBA application process doesn’t include active participation from your parents. You’re at a critical career crossroads here. The admissions committee wants to see applicants who have demonstrated leadership and wisdom. That’s a hard sell if you have parents chiming in at every step.
This requirement is always daunting for younger applicants. But take comfort in the fact that leadership doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a workplace context.
Can you show that you launched initiatives, programs, or ventures of some kind? Were you a teaching assistant? Perhaps you started a small business while in school, led a nonprofit, founded and led a club, or spearheaded a significant fundraiser.
To stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee, you need to provide hard proof that you made a difference. However, it’s not about the scale of your achievements. Focus on the fact that you made your mark.
Also, don’t neglect to mention teamwork. Your leadership experience may arise from an extracurricular activity. Highlighting teamwork and collaboration in any leadership story demonstrates maturity and people skills.
In addition, make sure the admissions committee can see that you have lots of interesting experiences and insights. These will allow you to actively participate in class discussions with stories that benefit fellow students.
It’s fine to be ready for business school, but are you truly going to benefit from skipping those two years of work experience? Is b-school just a solution to the question of what to do after college? Or, is it truly a logical next step for your career?
You’ll need to convince the admissions committee that you are ready for an MBA and that you have crystallized professional goals. Show how your background to date has given you a real taste of what you want to do with your career. Demonstrate that you’re confident that this is the best next step for you.
Your job as a college senior MBA applicant is to search internally for what you have to offer. Think about what you want to gain from and what you can contribute to an MBA program.
If you can demonstrate maturity, highly focused career goals, leadership skills, and enough life experience to contribute to an incoming class, your age or thin amount of work experience becomes far less critical to admissions committees.