Business schools receive applications from a wide variety of people from very diverse backgrounds. Because there are no strict requirements about what you have done (only that you have indeed done something), business schools entertain hopeful applications from just about every career field imaginable. Still, most applicants to business school come from what’s considered “traditional” industries and functions. In fact, from the chart below compiled at the Veritas Prep home office, you will see something you may not have noticed on your own. The overwhelming majority of the accepted applicants to top business schools in recent years (70%) have come from just four professional fields: Consulting, Finance, Sales/Marketing, and Management.
This fact contains both good news and bad news for applicants. The good news is, if you find yourself in this majority, you will have little difficulty convincing an admissions committee you are going to be fully committed to b-school. You will also not have to stretch much (if at all), to demonstrate aptitude (at least from the perspective of transferrable skill or potential for success in school or business). The bad news for the majority applicants, is that there is obviously a great deal of competition in these buckets, and schools are forced to turn away qualified applicants each year because they simply do not desire to fill their entire class with Consultants and Bankers.
There is also good and bad news for those in the other 30%. The numbers are clearly lower here, so standing out is not as difficult, and because schools like to diversify their student body makeup, according to this research, they consistently draw at least 30% of them from these other groups. Perhaps the most interesting group of all is the tiny slice of the pie known as “other,” which essentially implies a “non-traditional” background for business school. I have seen applicants in this category coming from just about every background imaginable: ranch-hand, medical doctors/pharmacists, professional musicians or athletes, even a train conductor! Often I see the most insecure applicants in this bunch, which on one hand is ridiculous, since it’s often these quirky, unique backgrounds which end up getting someone into b-school.
The key is passion.
Business schools would much rather matriculate a driven, passionate student who is 100% committed to their goals and has a clear plan to achieve them, vs. someone with a tried-and-true business experience under their belt, but who lacks ambition and vision. Finding the thread between what you have done already and what you hope to achieve post MBA is the most critical piece of the equation for non-traditional applicants.
The GMAT can also really help folks without a traditional background, since it is the only real apples to apples comparison tool the schools have to rate you against a traditional applicant. The long and the short of it is, if you are in the “other” category, you should focus on doing well on the GMAT and also on relating your story in a compelling way which ties everything together.
If you want to talk to us about how you can craft a strong application, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!
Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons. See more of his articles here.