Every MBA candidate brings something unique to the table, but business schools are always on the lookout for specific qualities as they review the thousands of applications that cross their desks each season. If you can convince the admissions committee that you possess the following five qualities, you’ll put yourself leagues ahead of everyone else within your applicant pool.
1. A leadership track record: Business schools want to develop leaders who will contribute positively to society, and applicants should show how they have begun to lead others even before setting foot on campus. But this does not have to mean coming up with grand and sweeping examples that forever changed the course of history at your company.
Think about a time when you motivated others to do something, when you marshaled resources to solve a problem, when you brought a fresh idea or new way of thinking to your organization and most importantly, how you worked to inspire others and bring out the best in them. The aim is to show where you made an impact, no matter the size.
One former client, George, had participated in an annual charity bike ride for the past five years. He felt his application lacked compelling examples of leadership, so we suggested that he volunteer to lead the coordination of the next ride. His responsibilities included recruiting volunteers, coordinating vendors and collecting funds.
George’s leadership of the team ultimately helped to increase the amount raised in the ride by 14 percent. George used this experience to write a strong leadership essay for each of his target schools, and it ultimately helped him gain admission to MIT Sloan School of Management.
2. Display quantitative competency: While you don’t need an undergraduate degree in economics to go to business school – MBA programs warmly welcome diversity in the form of applicants from the humanities, arts and social sciences – you do need to show that you won’t be in over your head with the information business school is designed to teach.
To get your foot in the door, strive for a GMAT or GRE score that aligns with the average at your target schools. It will set the admissions committee’s minds at ease knowing that, assuming you have relatively minimal academic experience in quantitative subjects, it won’t be a hindrance once you hit those core courses.
If this is a problem area for you, tackle it head-on. Allow ample time for test prep, retake the test a few times, complement your score by acing a college-level quantitative course or point out any quantitative skills used on the job to support your ability to handle the material of the program.