Application season for MBA programs is ramping up, and you can expect to see a lot of advice about how to make a strong case for your candidacy all over the internet. Here at EXPARTUS is no exception. If you take a look through our blog, you can expect to see important advice on personal branding, writing an effective MBA application essay, what to do if you have a below-average GMAT score, how to demonstrate leadership, and more.
But there’s one piece of advice I’d like to spotlight today, because I don’t want it to get overlooked in the flood of other application information. One of the most important things you can do to improve your chances of being admitted to business school is to engage directly with people who are in the position to impact your admissions outcome.
The biggest obstacle that many applicants have is thinking that they can’t: they can’t find the time, they can’t make it to campus, they can’t make a difference in the admissions process.
Here is the real truth: you can. It may not be easy – you may not be able to do absolutely everything – but you can find a way to connect with the admissions committee.
From coffee chats to information sessions, from MBA fairs to diversity events, there are tons of opportunities for applicants to engage with the school. Doing so lets you understand what they want and prepare your application with insight that puts you at an advantage.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, this is the time to apply it. You may not be able to achieve the “perfect” campus visit scenario. But it would absolutely be a mistake to miss out on a good opportunity to fully engage with your target schools.
4 Ways to Engage With Your Target Business Schools
1. Look into MBA fairs – These are large events held around the world, with representatives for admissions committees from several different schools present to meet with potential candidates. MBA fairs can be particularly valuable for international applicants, who have fewer opportunities to get on campus at their target schools. The MBA Tour and QS World MBA Tour are two of the top fairs, with stops from August through October held all over the world.
2. Meet with a student – Arranging an informational interview with a current student or recent alumnus from your target schools can be incredibly helpful. Even when students don’t have direct impact on the admissions process, they can give you a lot of insight into the school’s culture, how the admissions process works, courses and extracurriculars you might benefit from, and other insider advice that will help you demonstrate to the admissions committee that you’re a good fit for their school.
3. Attend an admissions event – While most top business schools encourage applicants to visit their campus, they are also realistic about the fact that many, many highly qualified candidates simply can’t make it to their location during the application process. That’s why they hold admissions events in locations around the country and around the world. Stanford GSB’s event calendar, for example, allows you to filter events by their geographic location, so you can search only for admissions events in Asia, Latin America, Europe, etc. Many of the top MBA programs offer similar engagement opportunities as well.
4. Get virtual – In addition to in-person events, many MBA programs offer online options for interested applicants. These can take the form of webinars, recordings, or group chats. MIT Sloan, for example, puts up recordings of past admissions events aimed at specific interest areas like Healthcare, FinTech, Impact Investing, and Women’s Week. They also host monthly online MBA chats, where potential candidates can ask questions about the application process and life at Sloan. This is common practice among most top MBA programs.
Given all these options, there’s no excuse for not finding some way to get connected with the admissions process at your target schools. No matter how busy you are, that small sacrifice of your time is absolutely worth it to gain an advantage in the admissions process. Prioritize the schools that you are most interested in, and make every effort to engage with them.