Can You Get Into a Top Grad School if You Didn’t Attend a Top University?

By - Jul 23, 06:00 AM Comments [0]

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Abhishek from India recently asked on our blog what Indian applicants who graduated from undergraduate programs not among the elite Indian IIT’s can do to gain acceptance to the top global MBA programs. While Abhishek was particularly focused on Indian MBA aspirants, this question applies to all applicants who did not graduate from an elite university in their home country. Do the top programs only accept graduates from the top undergraduate schools?

Abhishek and others from similar backgrounds need not be concerned solely with the name of their undergraduate institution. Plenty of alumni of non-IITs, U.S. state schools and programs outside of the top 5 in their home countries gain acceptance to the top MBA programs.

Here are two ways to surmount the obstacle of a less renowned program on your resume:

1. Demonstrate academic excellence on your own merit, not just by riding the coattails of your school’s reputation. Instead of relying on the program name to prove your academic abilities, share other evidence of your intelligence and intellectual curiosity. Did you take the most notoriously challenging courses? How did you challenge yourself and explore during your studies? Share evidence of your academic potential
such as academic awards, rank in your program and/or nationally, research projects that you conducted and published, and certifications such as the CFA or FRM. Finally, a high GMAT or GRE score will also demonstrate your academic potential.

2. Differentiate yourself so you are more than just an alumnus of your academic program in the admission committee’s eyes. Were you a campus leader with significant impact on student life? Have you passionately steered your career since graduating from your undergrad program? Have you led your company or its clients to tap new markets, chart a new course, or solve a relentless, pervasive problem? The impact you have been able to make on campus, in the workplace, in your industry, in your country or region will prove that you have EQ – a high emotional quotient – needed to lead people, shape teams, and guide senior management and clients.

Harvard Business School shares the range of undergraduate programs that recently-accepted applicants attended, including some lesser renowned Indian programs as Visveswaraiah Technological University, University of Poona, University of Bombay, Punjab Engineering College, Jadavpur University in addition to India’s IITs, NITs, BITSes, and SRCC.

So yes, Abhishek, non-IIT grads can make it to HBS and the other top MBA programs. Good luck with your applications!

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Jennifer BloomJennifer Bloom has been a consultant with Accepted for 17 years and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). She is an expert at crafting application materials that truly differentiate you from the rest of the driven applicant pool. If you would like help with your application, Jennifer can suggest a number of options that work with any budgetWant Jennifer to help you get accepted? Click here!

Related Resources:

From Example to Exemplary, a free guide to writing outstanding essays
Different Dimensions of Diversity, a podcast episode
Stand Out! A Critical Goal for Your Application, a podcast episode

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