By Nellie, IvyWise MBA & Graduate Admissions Counselor
Recent graduates and working professionals may be wondering what an MBA admission committee is looking for as they build the next generation of business leaders. Overall, it is important to understand that you need to tell your own unique and consistent story throughout the application.
However, MBA admissions committees will also be looking for specific traits throughout your application. We encourage you to consider these five main qualities as you draft your essays and when you interview to help frame yourself in a way that aligns with a successful B-school student.
Qualities MBA Admissions Committees Look For
Real-World Leadership Experiences
Business schools value leadership. However, it will look different at each school and may come in many different forms. Ideally, as an applicant, you will be able to provide your leadership experiences from your professional life, college extracurricular activities, personal accomplishments, and community citizenship.
It is essential to remember that leadership is not all about power, title, or position. You can focus on various leadership attributes such as innovative ideas, helping others, proactively solving problems, and taking initiative, to name a few. Focus on telling a story that highlights a problem you faced and your specific role in finding a solution.
Understanding Your Career Goals
Setting realistic post-MBA goals is essential to the business school application process. You should be ready and able to discuss why you want an MBA, how an MBA can help you achieve your career goals, and why now is the best time for you to apply.
Two of the most important things that graduate schools look for in successful candidates are a keen sense of focus and clear professional goals. Students who possess these traits tend to be most successful in graduate school and after. They know what they want out of their graduate studies and maximize that opportunity in every way possible. They also tend to be much more active in the student body and are proactive in securing internships and professional opportunities.
These factors make them more appealing to hiring managers and employers when it is time to seek post-graduation employment. Even more so, successful graduates become successful alumni who, in turn, give back to the university.
A Grasp on Self-Awareness
Business schools want to admit students that are capable of self-reflection, self-evaluation, and self-expression. Students who are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses tend to be better teammates, make use of academic resources, are well suited for campus leadership positions, and make strong job applicants.
Questions to think about include:
- What are your most impactful career accomplishments?
- What industry, function, or discipline appeals to you, and why?
- What skills are you looking to build?
It will be important for you to have taken time to think about your life and career. You can then demonstrate these personal anecdotes throughout the essays, interview, and letters of recommendation.
Analytical and Quantitative Aptitude
Business school offers a rigorous curriculum in a fast-paced environment. Remember, MBA students often work on team projects, internships, and case studies. Many of the courses within an MBA program focus on problem-solving and the ability to think creatively. So, you will want to demonstrate to admissions committees your ability to handle an academic workload through your GMAT/GRE score, academic history, and work experience.
A Commitment to Community Engagement
Business school is not only about developing yourself but also contributing to the community and helping others. Student-organized events play a large role in the MBA experience. Business schools are looking for candidates that will actively participate in their MBA program and make positive contributions to the school community. Community leadership is one way to emphasize your passions, show leadership, and demonstrate time management.
In summary, MBA applicants will need to demonstrate both hard and soft skills. You want to impress the admissions committee but also differentiate yourself from other applicants.
Are you interested in pursuing your MBA? At IvyWise, we work with recent college graduates and seasoned professionals to help them decide whether an MBA is right for them and how to stand out when applying to MBA programs. For more information on our MBA admissions counseling services, contact us today.