Heed This Advice Before Applying to B-School

In a recent MBA Podcaster podcast, Top 10 Tips for Getting Into Business School: Advice to Follow Before You Apply, Janet Nakano offers the lowdown gleaned from admissions directors from NYU Stern and Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

A drum roll, please, for the…

Top Ten Tips for Getting Into B-School

1. Speak from the heart— Business school applications force you to be introspective and while you’re trying to present yourself in the best light possible, make sure you stay true to yourself.

2. Know what the GMAT score means— All it shows is the correlation between how you will do academically in your core classes in your first year, says Isser Gallogly, executive director of MBA admissions at NYU Stern. A high GMAT score is nice to have but it certainly isn’t everything, Gallogly stresses.

3. Find your fit— Admissions officers are looking for candidates that will compliment the school’s culture. You really want to choose the people very, very carefully, says Gallogly. Choose the people and the fit first, and then look at some of the other factors second.

4. Don’t try to game the process— There’s far more arts and science when makes an admissions decision. It’s like putting together a puzzle looking for different kinds of expertise, different kinds of experiences that makes the classroom environment far richer and everyone’s experience through the MBA program far better, says Jim Holeman, director of admissions at Kelley School of Business.

5. Visit schools— If possible, don’t rely solely on websites, blogs, message boards or podcasts to get a feeling for your school of choice. Nothing beats the experience of walking on campus, talking to students, sitting in on a class if you can. By making a personal connection with a school, you’ll be able to more accurately convey why the fit works for you and your application will benefit.

6. Know what you want and why you want it— Business school is a place to get it done, not to figure it out, Gallogly says, adding that it’s not a time for self reflection and self discovery. If you’re not really pretty clear in what you want to go do, take the time to figure that out and then apply to business school.

7. Be consistent— Admissions officers like to see your application as one complete story of who you are, Nakano says. Imagine a unifying thread that connects everything from your GMAT score, academic record, essays, recommendations and interview.

8. Don’t be desperate— You know how difficult getting into a top program is; some business schools accept a mere 10% of the applicant pool. Even if you would be thrilled, or would kill to be in that group of admits, remember to keep your cool and don’t beg, bribe or badger the admissions committee, Nakano advises.

9. Apply when you’re ready— My advice to candidates is always apply when you feel that your application is at its strongest, says Holeman, adding that he’d much rather see an application come in for a later deadline that’s strong than someone who rushed to meet an early deadline but is not satisfied with the submission.

10. Know the admissions officers are people, too— It all still comes down to whether the individual reader digs what you’re trying to say or not, Holeman explains. Because of that it goes back to the whole concept of being yourself and being engaged and being sincere about who you are, what you’ve done and what you want both in the essays and the interviews because that is what people will remember.

To hear this podcast of top ten tips for getting into business school, click here.

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