Business school applications are all about laying out how you have exhibited the qualities of a leader. After all, this is the quality that b-schools, in general, desire the most in their applicants. A lot of my admissions consulting clients struggle with a succinct definition of leadership. That is, one that they as the applicant can use as a succinct model.
One of the most contentious components of a business school application is the part where you detail your involvement in activities outside of work. Every year, hopeful b-school applicants face down the ghost of a busy career, one which often haunts them with the fact they have had very little time to do anything other than drive work results in their job since they graduated. But how much does it really matter to the admissions committees whether or not you are engaged in your community?
A significant portion of my MBA admissions consulting applicants come to be with little to no extracurricular experience since their undergraduate days. While this is a problem that can be addressed, it can show a lack of proper planning over the long term. A lot of applicants don't think about the impact of their actions on their applicant competitiveness when the graduate from undergrad. To a certain extent, even I was the same way. What I like most about some of my clients is the the way some of them are way ahead of the game we call the MBA application process. Those that have been planning since day 1 to go back to b-school tend to be distinguishing yourself from your peers out of the gate and these habits show when constructing the business school application.
As an MBA admissions consultant, I have worked with a number of clients over the past 5 years. Invariably, the most common question I receive is "What are my chances of getting in?" Answering this question qualitatively requires years of admissions consulting experience with dozens and dozens of clients. Doing the question justice and providing the client with meaning insight requires several hours of examination. Even then, as the applicant matures and the application process begins, the applicant's "chances" can change remarkably.
However, there has to be some way of getting into the analytics of how MBA admissions committees view their applicant pool. I mean, Wharton is not going to take an applicant with a 480 GMAT, there is just no way. There has to be a range, cut-offs and some way to statistically examine applicant pools.
I searched high and low on the WWW for such a tool. I could find none in the GMAT/MBA space. What I found were mostly models that analyzed a few criteria from an applicant's POV. That is, these models looked at things like:
- In what type of setting should the school reside? Urban, Suburban, Rural?
- What time of female or international representation should be present?
- What climate should the school reside in?
While these factors are important in the decision-making process, they do not necessarily view things from the admissions committee perspective.
With this in mind, I when out and created a model that analyzes an applicant's prospects of entering the top 25 U.S. business school programs from an admissions committee view. I developed this tool for Veritas Prep as part of my MBA admissions consulting responsibilities.
The explanation from the Veritas Prep website does a great job of explaining what function the tool serves:
"This tool was created to generate an optimal range of business schools for you. By "optimal," we mean that these are the highest-ranked schools to which you have a reasonable chance of getting accepted. While no model is perfect, especially in beta, you can use the range of schools at the bottom of this page as a way to start narrowing your choice of MBA programs."
"Please don’t take the model too seriously. Since it only utilizes a subset of data, it cannot be considered a comprehensive tool for all situations and applicant profiles. The admissions process is highly subjective, and no one model can serve as an "oracle" or "magic eight ball.""
Click here to access the Veritas Prep Business School Selector.
As an MBA admissions consultant I often have to take a step back with my clients. Over the years I have learned a lot from my clients and have come to realize that the definitions of proper interview dress or attire varies by region, country and even culture.
This is the deal, and I dissuade anyone from thinking anything to the contrary:
- Wear a dark colored suit (Grey, Black, Charcoal) with a white or light blue shirt.
- Wear a tie that has as little design or pattern in it at possible. Solid colored ties are good.
- Wear shoes that are polished with dark socks. By shoes I mean dress shoes with dark laces, not “comfort” shoes, timberlands or Uggs. By dark I mean dark blue or black.
- Do not wear anything that is tight-fitting or shows body parts excessively. This is an interview not a club.
- Cut the tags off your clothing. Nothing says Men’s Wearhouse $199 special than tags still sewn onto the sleeve of a jacket. Don’t laugh too much, I have seen this as an MBA admissions interviewer. It tells me the applicant is clueless at worst or knows a good sale when he sees one at best.
- Get a shave and a haircut……shower.
I taught the GMAT for about 3 years. In that time, I had the pleasure of teaching over 250 students. Along the way, I also had the privilege of helping a select few craft their admissions packages. Based on my experience and in order of importance, I present the following 8 factors I consider critical to getting into a top b-school:
- GMAT Score
- Application Essays
- Work Experience
- Extracurricular Activities
- Applicant Submission Round