In the hierarchy of business school rankings, no program is as selective as the Stanford Graduate School of Business. With an MBA acceptance rate that is traditionally in the single digits, GSB is the program that knows exactly the type of MBA candidate they are looking for and they know how to filter out the rest. The school expects applicants to truly know who they are as not only a business professional, but more importantly, as a person. They will accept nothing less from those who eventually gain entrance to GSB - MBA students who truly know themselves and how they plan to change their communities and leave the world a better place than they found it. If you doubt your candidacy to the world’s most selective MBA program, relax for a moment and read this guide.
In our line of work, the challenge is taking the reality of a program and translating that to the application process. How does this “readiness” aspect impact you and your application to INSEAD? It starts with ironclad career goals that make perfect sense, it extends to an ability to show academic focus, discipline, and curiosity, and is topped off with a requirement that you show true people skills in your profile. This last point is paramount; it’s not enough to show “teamwork and leadership” as it is at most MBA programs. With INSEAD, you have to show more personality – the ability to interact with people from all over the world.
Updated June 2015
In the admissions consulting business, we love to ask the question, "Where are you applying?" And applicants appear to equally enjoy giving an answer that starts with "HBS, of course." HBS, of course. The first rule of applying to Harvard Business School is to understand that everyone applies to Harvard Business School. Applying to HBS isn't a novel exercise, but rather the first box on a checklist for virtually every candidate pursuing an MBA from an elite program.
So what does this mean you shouldn't apply to HBS? Of course not. But it does mean two critical things:
- Your interest in HBS must rise above "it's HBS"
- You absolutely must do everything right
Updated for 2015/2016
In the weeks and months immediately following the collapse of the financial markets in the Fall of 2008, there was rampant speculation about how the worst economic meltdown of our times would impact business schools and, specifically, the MBA admissions process. With many top programs, the changes were subtle and gradual and with more than a few, there were virtually no major differences in the process prior to and after 2008. Neither of these two descriptions apply to Columbia, where change has been immediate, dramatic, and all-encompassing. In fact, MBA applicants are unlikely to find more obvious evidence of the new world order than when applying to Columbia Business School.
We spend literally all of our time thinking about MBA programs - in the U.S. and abroad, where they have been and where they are headed, essays and interviews, case method and experiential learning. It consumes our thoughts and frames our reference for how we view the world (when we watch a TV show with a character who takes risks, our first thought is, "Wow, Chicago Booth would love this guy"). So it's with no small amount of thought that we say, without equivocation: Wharton presents the most confusing business school application in the world.