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What B-schools look for and how they evaluate your application

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What B-schools look for and how they evaluate your application [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jun 2016, 17:37
Before you start crafting your MBA applications, it is important to understand what business schools look for in prospective MBA students and how they evaluate your application. You might have heard that schools evaluate your profile in a holistic manner. If that left you confused and puzzled, we have broken it down for you. Read below to know what traits and quality most schools are looking for and how they assess the same from different application components:

1. Intellectual aptitude: MBA coursework is quite rigorous and the admission committee (adcom) wants to make sure that you will be able to handle the pressure of the program. If they feel that you might struggle with the coursework or fail to complete the assignments within the assigned deadlines, they will not be inclined to admit you.

How your intellectual aptitude is evaluated

    a. The GMAT/GRE test score is one objective parameter that helps the adcom assess your academic readiness. It also shows if you are industrious- a trait valued tremendously in B-schools.
    b. Your undergraduate GPA is also an important data point to get an idea about your academic capabilities. In addition, adcom also takes into account the undergraduate school you attended and how rigorous their undergraduate program was. For example, if you attended an Ivy League university or a well-known international institute such as IIT, the adcom will tend to look at you more favorably.
    c. Additional college level coursework although much less important, can highlight your aptitude and support your application especially if your grades are not that great at your GMAT score is lacking.

2. Interpersonal skills: In B-schools, you will work in teams for the most part. The majority of your assignments will have to be completed in teams. Every school wants to know that you will deliver well in team scenarios. In addition, most school communities have a thriving social life and expect the students to take an active part in the activities- such as attending football games and innumerable Happy Hours! Your superior skills will also come handy as you start recruiting for your internships and full-time jobs. Adcom must feel comfortable imagining you succeeding in these scenarios in the classroom, playground and in front of the recruiters.

How your people skills are evaluated:

    a. Resume descriptions tell the adcom the number of people you work(ed) with, whether you manage any teams and how successful you are in delivering results working with your team-mates.
    b. Essays stories (where relevant) are a way of learning how you deal with difficult situations while working as a team.
    c. Letters of recommendations are specifically designed to get an objective understanding of your interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively with people.
    d. Interview questions are another great tool in understanding your caliber by gauging your strengths and weaknesses and asking about different team situations and how you tackled them.

3. Leadership potential: While you are at B-school, you will be participating in several team-oriented activities. To work effectively, every team needs a proactive leader. Could you take that role in a team situation? Schools are not only thinking for the short-term. They are also trying to envision you as an alum. Hence, it is important for you to prove that you will be a visionary leader who will carry forward the school’s brand and image. Do you have it in you to be a leader at the forefront of your industry, someone that the school would like to associate with?

How your leadership abilities are assessed:

    a. Essay questions about your career goals are a critical way to know about your VISION for your future. Answers to more specific leadership, achievement questions provide more vivid insights into your personality and about your leadership style in different situations.
    b. The content on your resume must reflect your potential through the initiatives you have taken, the impact you have made on your organization(s) and the teams you have managed successfully.
    c. Your recommenders are often requested to provide information about your leadership potential, and specific examples and anecdotes about how you manage people and difficult situations.
    d. Some of the interview questions straight away probe you about your leadership style and ask for examples from real life situation where you managed a team or project to support your claim.

4. Personality: You might be great at numbers and achieving results for your company, but that is not enough. B-schools look at your personality too to judge if you will be a good fit for the school’s culture. They want to know what kind of a person you are, what are your likes and dislikes, what causes you care about and what makes you tick.

How schools evaluate your personality:

    a. Essay questions such as Stanford’s ‘what matters most to you?’ or Berkeley Haas’ ‘song essay’ or Duke’s '25 Random things..' question and so on are all different tools to learn about the person behind the numbers and achievements. Even if a particular essay question isn’t asking about personal information, the way you answer a question reveals a great deal about you. So use the MBA essays to your advantage!
    b. The extracurricular activities section in the application and resume is an important part and should not be taken lightly. If tackled correctly, it can help you stand out and be memorable. INSEAD has an entire essay devoted to what you do outside of work and how that enriches you!

5. Character: While each school wants to recruit smart, ambitious and competitive individuals, it is also incredibly important for the reputed universities to admit individuals who are conscientious and self-aware. Once you join a B-school, you will most likely be required to sign and adhere to an Honor Code.

How your character is evaluated:

    a. Some of the schools ask about an ethical dilemma you faced or the most difficult decision you were forced to make. And even if the question isn’t about ethics, the way you answer the achievement or failure or setback story exposes your values and character.
    b. A few of the schools ask your recommender on how you reacted to a recent constructive criticism. Others question about how they would rate your integrity. It is always a good idea to discuss the approach with your recommender to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

6. Ambition: B-schools are competitive and they look for students who are ambitious and have the drive to be successful. If you have been an achiever throughout your life, that’s a good indication of your expected performance in the MBA program.

How adcom learns about your ambitions:

    a. Test scores: Good scores are an indication that student will work hard to attain superior results.
    b. Career progression as seen in your work experience also reflects on your ability to dream and achieve greater milestones for your future.
    c. The magnitude of your post-MBA goals also show the adcom that you believe in yourself and aspire to take on challenges to reach for the sky.

7. Maturity: Almost all the global top MBA programs look for students who have gained some work experience and developed a sense of self-awareness. This helps students in making better use of their MBA education and contributing meaningfully to the school’s community.

How your maturity is evaluated:

    a. Again essay narratives are a wonderful medium to learn about your perspectives, depth of thought and how your experiences have shaped you.
    b. Realistic, credible and well-thought out career goals are another reflection of maturity.
    c. In case you have international experience, highlighting how that helped you grow and develop would also help you present your inclusive worldview.
    d. The way you articulate your need for an MBA and why a particular school will help you reach your goals is another way to know how thorough and serious you are about attending an MBA program. The research and commitment you display in learning about a program further demonstrate your sincerity and maturity.

Now that you are more enlightened, go ahead and make awesome applications!

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What B-schools look for and how they evaluate your application   [#permalink] 30 Jun 2016, 17:37
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