Your MBA Application Checklist: From A to Z
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to go to business school... Now what? At Veritas Prep, we’ve polled the industry experts to create an MBA application checklist that will help ensure you have everything you need to gain acceptance to a top-tier business school.
1) Self Reflection (Pre-process)
Before you dive into preparing your applications, it’s important to think about the purpose of this journey. Admissions Committees are suspicious of the “I need a change in my life” applicant. They are going to be looking for you to tell a compelling story about why you need this MBA experience. 80% of business school applicants are qualified to attend - pre-planning and reflecting can make the difference between being accepted and being denied.
I. Why an MBA? (Post-MBA short-term goals and long-term goals) Clearly define what you want to do post-MBA. It helps if you need an MBA to achieve whatever goals you envision.
II. Does the job you want exist? If you need to create the job, how will you do this?
III. When should you apply? Research the industry that interests you (if you aren’t already in it). If you are an entrepreneur, you need to have a plan for your business and you need to show demand and demonstrate success.
IV. How will you finance your MBA? Consider scholarships and different mentorship programs. Check to see if your company will sponsor your MBA, or guarantee a position to you when you return.
2) Complete Your Academic Profile
Take a deep breath because we are about to drop some knowledge on you. At Veritas Prep, we’ve noticed that if you are 35 points below the average GMAT score at your target program, you will be in the bottom 10th percentile of the incoming class. We bring this up to illustrate an important point, your stand-out factors and your perceived unique situation will only get you so far- you need to have the scores to make a case for your acceptance.
I. GPA: Your GPA should be in the middle 80th percentile range of the class profile. If you have a reason your GPA isn’t up to par, remember to explain this eloquently on the application or in the optional essays.
II. Quant Coursework: If you have a “soft” undergraduate major and you anticipate that the GMAT/GRE score will be a challenge for you, it’s recommended that you enroll in Quant courses at a local university, community college, or through an online program at a reputable university. The Admissions Committees will be looking to evaluate your dedication, and to see whether you can handle the math or not. The extra courses won’t hurt you, unless you can’t pass them.
III. GMAT/GRE Score: Start by taking a practice test. Veritas Prep’s GMAT practice tests are the best in the business – take one for free and get an idea of where you stand on the GMAT exam. After you have taken a practice test, consider taking a GMAT or GRE course, or hiring a private tutor to boost your score. Our courses and private tutoring services increase applicants’ scores by 140 points on average. This can be the difference between attending your dream school and your safety school.
IV. TOEFL/IELTS/Pearson Test of English (PTE): If you are an international student or if you received the bulk of your undergraduate education in another language, you’ll need to prove your English abilities. Find out more about the requirements here.
3) Select Your Target MBA Programs
So many top tier MBA programs, so little time. A great resource for learning about the differences between these top tier MBA programs is Veritas Prep’s Online Essential Guide. Here, you’ll find everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your target schools. When you are choosing the best MBA program for you, our experts recommend that you think about the following criterium.
I. Fit: Prestige is important, but don’t underestimate the fit factor. Visit campuses, drop in on a student club meeting, email with current students and envision yourself among them. Make sure it feels like the right place for you.
II. Courses: Research and generate a list of courses that link directly to your post-MBA goals.
III. Professors: Who is your academic Beyoncé? Reach out to the professors that you want to do projects or research with. Talk about how the classes and professors will lead you to success.
IV. Post-MBA Employment Reports: Your target school should send a high percentage of its graduates into the industry that interests you.
Most top tier MBA programs do not have rigid resume guidelines, which can actually be a bit more challenging. While the program website might say, “Use whatever you would use to conduct a job search,” there’s a bit more to it than that.
I. Quantifiable: Make sure the impact you’ve made in your job is quantifiable.
II. Readable: The person reading this will likely not be from your industry. Make sure that anyone can understand what you’ve done in your professional career regardless of their familiarity with your industry.
III. Truthful Do not lie about any of your accomplishments or try to claim your entire company’s success. It’s so obvious to Admissions Committee Members when you are trying to overcompensate by taking more credit than you deserve.
Whatever you think the Admissions Committees want to hear, you are wrong because they don’t want to hear any one story or any particular narrative. More than anything, Admissions Committees are looking for your unique voice to come through. They are looking for passion, direction, and most of all authenticity. Being yourself is the best way to gain admittance into these top programs. The problem is that sometimes you need a little help figuring out who you are or what is interesting.
I. Outline and Brainstorm: Decide what to write about and create an outline. By the end of the outline, you might have something even more interesting to write about.
II. Draft: Write out the answer to the question, trying to keep to the given word limit as best you can.
III. Feedback: If you don’t have the funds to have one of our Admissions Consultants work on your essays with you, you’ll need to find a trusted friend to review your work. Here’s a tip: don’t show them the question. If they can tell what question you’re trying to answer, and if they feel the authentic “you” is coming across, you’re headed in the right direction.
IV. Edit: Go through several rounds of edits. Check for grammar and content.
Recommendations can be just as important as the essays. Our Admissions experts urge you to choose someone who knows you well, such as a supervisor, former supervisor, colleague, or extra-curricular partner. Familiarity should always take precedence over seniority, alumni, or celebrity status.
I. Supervisors: Admissions Committees know that it may not always be possible to ask your current Supervisor for a recommendation. You don’t want to jeopardize your current job by requesting a recommendation (if you think that’s a possibility there are other options). A former supervisor can be just as influential - admissions will not hold this against you, although current supervisors are preferred. If you explain the situation to the Admissions Committee, you will be fine.
II. No Jerks: An increasingly popular trend in admissions is the emotional intelligence test or EQ component. For example, in the 2017-2018 application season, Stern changed up their application to come right out and ask for an EQ endorsement from a team member or colleague. You have to have it all these days. It’s not enough to be professionally accomplished, have big goals and big plans, and get the test scores – you’ve also got to be a good person.
7) Submit the Application
You’ve made it to the final step! Congratulations yet again! Follow all of the directions in the online application system for your target MBA programs. Each school has a different application system, so it’s really important to go over the online form with a fine-toothed comb. This includes:
- Fill out all of the online components.
- Proofread every section of the application and go over your essays one more time.
- Accept any necessary terms/agreements.
- Submit before the deadline.
- Wait for the school’s decisions to be released!
Do you have questions about the components you should be including in your business school applications? Veritas Prep is here to help! Contact us today to speak with an expert MBA admissions consultant and learn how you can gain admission to your dream school.