Six Common Myths and Misconceptions About INSEAD

Every year countless applicants ask us about INSEAD. Given the school’s high profile around the globe, it’s not surprising that so many applicants think about spending time in Fontainebleau and Singapore. What does surprise us, though, is how common some misconceptions are among even those applicants who have extensively studied the school. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they start working on their INSEAD applications.

If you’re considering applying to INSEAD, ask yourself: How do you know if the school really is a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the INSEAD admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school? Today we look at six things that applicants think they know about INSEAD:

Is INSEAD really a global school? Or is it just an American school located overseas?
While INSEAD may have physical locations in three very different countries, with students representing over 80 nations on campus, and it has been successful in defining itself as a global education, some still criticize INSEAD as being an American school experience, given the large number of U.S. nationals who attend, the concentration of American faculty, and the relationships with so many American companies. In the past, this was simply a reflection of the power of the U.S. in business the world over, and that may be changing. Regardless of nationality, all students and faculty at INSEAD have a global worldview, and all are interested in learning about business from this broader perspective which is simply not as pervasive (yet?) at any American school.

INSEAD is in France so I need to speak French to apply.
No — but you need to speak a second language to gain entry (and a third to graduate). Courses are taught in English, not French, and the program rotates through the different campuses — and in fact, applicants to the program are not guaranteed that they will be assigned to one location or the other to start the program, and a large number switch campuses at least once. The main language requirement to apply is to be fluent in English, though students must be familiar with at least one more language before entering, and must demonstrate a working knowledge of a third during the course of study.

INSEAD is only good for someone who wants to work in Europe.
The location in France can be an advantage if your goals are to stay in Europe however many American graduates do return to the U.S. after finishing school. The job search can be more difficult for these students, but that can be true for American graduates of any international program, including those at London Business School, HEC Paris, IE, IESE, among others.

INSEAD students are older.
Actually, the average age in each intake is currently 28 — the same as for American schools such as Stern and Haas. The average age decreased in recent years as INSEAD has accepted a wider range of candidate profiles. Successful applicants at INSEAD definitely are able to articulate how they are ready for the experience, and often students will have already led rich lives with diverse and impressive accomplishments.

All INSEAD students are sponsored.
Just like with other full-time MBA programs, some students do have their tuition covered by their employers and will return to work after graduation, but the vast majority are self-funded. (The number of sponsored students increased in the past year, no doubt a result of the economic downturn that made the security of staying with their employer more enticing for those pursuing their MBAs.) The major exception to this are students who come from the Big Three consulting firms — McKinsey, Bain and Booz. These students typically are sponsored, in exchange for a commitment to return to their firm. However, candidates may be pleased to note that all three of these marquee companies recruit a large number of additional INSEAD graduates each year.

Since it’s a top-ranked program, INSEAD must require a stratospheric GMAT score to get in.
Actually, GMAT scores on average are lower at INSEAD. This program, as some other international schools do as well, values a variety of attributes in a profile, with test scores being just one. As with any MBA program, a high GMAT can help, and a low GMAT can hinder, a candidate’s chances, but there are lots of other factors taken into consideration by the INSEAD Admissions Committee when evaluating an application.

Today’s blog post was clipped from our INSEAD Annual Report, one of 15 guides to the world’s best MBA programs, available for purchase on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for INSEAD or other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!