Whether you’re applying to a traditional business school or an online MBA program, the quality of your application is usually the deciding factor in whether or not you are accepted into a program. Take the time to prepare and craft the story of your career carefully.
Here are some tips to help highlight your personal and professional accomplishments.
Craft a strong essay to stand out
Your essay, or personal statement, is your primary sales tool when it comes to convincing the admissions committee of your value. Most of the other application materials, such as GMAT or GRE scores, offer only a standardized view of candidates. Your essay provides an open-ended way for you to make your application shine.
Keep in mind that application essays have a limited word count, so be clear and concise and ensure every word holds value. If there’s even a single sentence that isn’t driving home your main point, remove it or revise it accordingly.
Before writing your essay, be sure to research the MBA programs you’re applying to and tailor your essay to each one.
Remember, it’s not just about you. Communicate why your specific academic and professional background will add value to your MBA cohort.
MBA admissions committees are always looking to build a diverse cohort, as this Business Insider article explains.The article’s author, a Wharton graduate and former member of the school’s admissions committee, shares insights on the admissions process. Aside from reminding candidates to ensure applications are complete and accurate, he delves into what committee members consider when reviewing your application—including the importance of the essay.
Before you submit your essay, have someone who knows you well, such as a manager, mentor, colleague, friend, or family member, review it. It’s important to ask for an outside perspective to ensure your essay accomplishes your goals.
Create a resume tailored to your MBA application
As with job applications, you should write your resume concisely and use a format that is easy to read. Reviewers are looking at hundreds of resumes, alongside other documents, so don’t make their job any more challenging.
Your resume should align with, and support, your essay. You should also enumerate measurable results, instead of only listing daily job duties or responsibilities.
In addition, highlight unique aspects of your experience. Did you take on and direct a non-traditional or innovative project? Perhaps you started your own business or freelanced on the side?
If you’ve received promotions, taken on additional leadership responsibilities, or succeeded in an entrepreneurial endeavor, make that evident. Actions like these showcase desirable qualities, such as leadership, initiative, and resourcefulness.
Be strategic in rounding up your MBA recommendation letters
Most applicants don’t take advantage of the recommendation letters section of their application. They may succeed in asking people for letters, but that’s as far as they go. Being strategic in your recommendation requests will set you apart. You must be strategic in your recommendation requests. Ask each person recommending you to focus on a specific (and different) aspect of your personal or professional life, preferably one they can speak to easily and in detail.
The result will be a holistic picture of you, your personal attributes, and your professional abilities, instead of redundant praise about generic qualities. The admissions committee will appreciate this greatly.
One other important note: The people you ask for recommendations should be objective and be able to include vivid examples. Objectivity lends credibility to the letter, and examples help strengthen their points. As one U.S. News & World Report article notes, “Vivid examples can make or break a recommendation.”
What’s the takeaway from these MBA application tips?
Overall, you need to make sure that all the materials in your application present a cohesive, connected package, rather than developing your materials as standalone, disconnected documents. The essay may be the leader, but your resume, recommendation letters, and other materials should help support it.
Keeping these tips in mind will improve your chances of getting into the graduate school of your choice.
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