Getting Into Business School: Tips for Your Application
If you’re looking to get into Business School, you’re certainly not alone. Going to b-school, whether for undergraduate study or to do your MBA, is becoming an increasingly popular study option. Business school teaches students the practical application of theory into practice, as well as providing access to a network of contacts. In this post, I’ll offer some comprehensive suggestions for getting into the business school of your choice. Every b-school can have a slightly different application process, but there are certain elements that will almost certainly need to be included, and dos and don’ts that are universal.
- Are marks and work experience all-important?
Having good marks in previous educational efforts is never a bad thing. A good academic transcript and GMAT Score demonstrates that you can handle a workload, and that you can be expected to continue your track record of academic achievement at business school. However your application will be read as a whole, and your marks are only one of several elements. There is room within your application letter to explain any underperformance, and to demonstrate how you have excelled in other areas.
Similarly, the quality and scope of your work experience is always more important than the amount. Success can be demonstrated through achievement, rather than by the amount of time you have spent working somewhere.
- Writing your Application Letter
The application letter, - also called a personal statement, cover letter, motivation letter, etc. - is an important way for you to communicate your abilities beyond what is simply captured by your résumé. Take advantage of it, and don’t simply rehash the information you’ve already provided in other documents. This is your opportunity to communicate your personal motivation, and the accomplishments and experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise know about. This will be crucial in convincing others of your suitability for the programme you’re applying for.
Use the application essay to explain your particular skills and experience, using examples to create a personal narrative and style. Show that you’re curious, motivated, interested in business and ready for a challenge! Some application essays will require you to answer specific questions. Answer them! Your letter might be a literary masterpiece, but even Shakespeare couldn’t get into a business school if he ignored the questions being asked!
Creativity and authenticity is key. For many applications, this application letter is the only personalised component, so it is important to remember to be detailed, clear and confident. Follow the link for more detailed advice on the five most important components of an application letter.
- Who to ask for a Letter of Recommendation
It is important to get a recommendation letter from somebody who you have worked closely with, and who actually has a good idea of your capabilities and strengths. While the temptation to ask a prominent public figure or somebody well known in your area is high, a vague and general letter from someone who doesn’t actually know you is unlikely to add depth to your application. A good letter of recommendation will be specific to you, and also help to demonstrate why you are interested in the business school you’re applying to.
The letter should be roughly two pages in length and should explicitly reference your overall work ethic, your career interests, research skills and ability to meet deadlines. For more details, have a look at our Advice section article specifically about letters of recommendation.
- Consider your application as a whole!
Your application may consist of several separate documents, but it would be a mistake not to see it as a series of connected pieces that tell one continuous story. Each element of the application should be taken seriously, and being prepared. Start early, and consider your application as a whole!
- How can you set yourself apart from other applicants?
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but be yourself! Bringing some personality to your application and highlighting the unique qualities that you will bring to the b-school in question cannot be underestimated. The same can be said if you get to the interview stage. If you’re a blackbelt in martial arts, speak a foreign language, or volunteer regularly at a soup kitchen, explain how this demonstrates that you can balance multiple commitments! For some tips for your business school interview, Leslie Moser has written an article with some useful suggestions.
Above all, make sure you do your research and know what the specific b-school is looking for. Have a look at their websites and social media – see, for example, the blog of London Business School Admissions.
If you’re considering an MBA, have a look at our articles devoted to choosing the right MBA program for you, in the region of your choice. For some business school admissions tips specific to the U.S., follow this link for some useful Q&As with specific business schools.
If you are interested in getting into a business school but are unsure about where you’d like to apply, take a look at the many listings in diverse departments updated regularly on INOMICS.
Photo credit: The Tax Haven
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