Just Admit It: What are Business School Admissions Committees Looking For?

By IvyWise on Tuesday, June 1, 2021

What Can You Do to Stand Out When Applying to Business School?

Since the MBA admissions process is notoriously competitive, many applicants may wonder what they can do to help set themselves apart for the admissions committees. While there isn’t one secret to success, there are several steps prospective business school students can take to improve their admissions odds.

From understanding the application process to finding their best-fit programs, MBA applicants need to do their research and stay on top of deadlines to enhance their journey. Keep reading to learn more about the MBA application process and tune into our Just Admit It! podcast episode for even more information on the topic.

Stay True to Yourself 

Depending on when you apply and the schools that you’re interested in, there might be several popular areas of focus. In years past, private equity was one of the most buzzed-about fields, and now it’s entrepreneurship that’s getting a lot of attention. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing these interests if you are generally passionate about them, MBA applicants should avoid adopting a “join the herd” mentality. Regardless of what field or career path is in the news, students need to focus on their own professional ambitions and identify opportunities that align with their goals. In addition to better serving you in the long run, it can work in an applicant’s advantage to have a unique aspiration and career trajectory that will stand out to admissions committees.

Self-Reflection is Essential

Before you start putting together your MBA application, take some to reflect on your career so far and what you’re looking to do next. Evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses and try to envision where you want to be immediately after your business school graduation as well as five and 10 years later. Not only will these questions help you identify best-fit options, but they’ll also set you up for success when you sit down to write your application essays. Much like the undergraduate process, business school admissions committees are looking for students who have identified a field of interest and understand exactly how a degree from their school will fit into their longer-term professional journeys.

Get Strategic About Recommendation Letters

The business school admissions committee will typically want to see 2-3 letters of recommendation from each applicant. It’s important to choose wisely whom you’d like to write these letters because they will carry significant weight in the application process. Generally, MBA applicants should focus on professional references, such as a colleague or leader from your current role. However, if you’ve been working for only a few years, you can also include a letter of recommendation from a college professor to bolster your application.

Demonstrate the Impact You’ll Make on Campus 

In addition to reviewing GMAT or GRE scores and undergraduate transcripts, business school admissions committees are looking to get a sense of who you are and the contributions you will make to the community. Consequently, business school applicants should articulate their interests outside of the workplace and highlight the hobbies and causes that are meaningful to them. This might include a volunteer program mentoring high school students, a commitment to marathon running, or a side job in the arts. Regardless of what you’re doing in your free time, it’s important that these interests and passions come across in your application so the admissions office gets a full picture of who you are and the contributions that you will make.

The MBA admissions process can feel a bit overwhelming, which is why we always recommend that applicants start early and do their research. If you’re interested in applying to business school and want personalized guidance, our team of MBA admissions experts can help you maximize your chances of admission to your best-fit MBA program. For more information on our graduate and MBA admissions services, contact us today.

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