MBA Applications – Frequently Asked Questions Part 1

MBA Applications – Frequently Asked Questions Part 1 | The Red Pen

1st in a 2-part series on MBA FAQs

Welcome to our two-part series on frequently asked questions from MBA applicants!

The MBA application process has many nuances. While there are many things that may be highly specific to you, there are some general questions that most of our applicants end up asking us. Here are some tips to help you navigate the MBA application process. Keep in mind that these are guidelines and there may be exceptions.

In which MBA round should I apply?

We strongly advise applicants to apply in Round 1, unless they have some pressing reason that makes them unable to do so. The benefits of applying in Round 1 are numerous. Right off the bat, it demonstrates your seriousness and passion for that particular school. MBA admissions data reveals that international students have higher acceptance rates in Round 1 and that applying in the first round can improve your chances for a scholarship. When you apply in Round 2, you are competing against other applicants for fewer seats and you will be compared with students who have already been admitted. In Round 3, you will face the same challenges, only amplified. Your best chance at admission is in Rounds 1 and 2, with Round 1 being the best option for the most competitive schools on your list.

How much does the GMAT/GRE score matter for an MBA application?

The GMAT/GRE score is a critical component of the application and it’s often the first parameter the MBA admissions committee looks at in an application. However, it’s not the only criteria for a successful applicant. The GMAT/GRE score is intended to help the admissions committee assess your ability to thrive in business school. So, while a high score certainly can make you a competitive applicant, in the end, it can’t compensate for a weak application or guarantee you admission. Likewise, a score on the lower end of the business school’s desired spectrum or average doesn’t mean you have no chance of being accepted if the rest of your application demonstrates your strengths and fit for the programme.
Caveat: Many programmes expect that Indian applicants will have high GMAT/GRE scores, especially if they attended an engineering college, so the benchmark is higher for Indian applicants.

How important are the things I do outside of work/school?

While you might think that the only thing that matters is your professional life and academic record, business schools are actually trying to learn everything about you as a person to assess your fit for their MBA programme. Business school is social and network-oriented and programmes are looking for passionate dynamic applicants who bring energy and diverse life experiences to their campuses. The activities you pursue outside of school and work highlight your leadership and other character traits while demonstrating your passions in life. MBA programmes are interested in your college extracurricular participation as well as any activities you have done since joining the professional world. Anything you were involved with prior to college should not be included in your MBA application.

Should I quit my job to focus on my MBA applications?

We hear this question all the time and our answer is always, NO! Please DO NOT quit your job before or during the application cycle. This will give you a gap in your career progression, which schools do not look upon favourably. As a rule, it is not advisable to leave your job for any reason during the application period (sick relatives, soul searching, wedding planning, etc.). Quitting your job may leave you in an awkward position while asking for recommendations from your past employers and will also indicate an inability to multitask, which reflects negatively on you. You want to be able to highlight your stellar skills at balancing your work and personal life–showcasing another of your strengths.

When should I begin working on my MBA applications if I am applying in Round 1?

As early as possible! We can’t emphasise this enough. Applicants all over the world find this process challenging and time-consuming. They need to complete many drafts of everything from their resume and essays to recommendation pointers before they are ready for submission. We suggest you give yourself six months to complete the entire process so you have ample time to research your schools, think about your goals, flesh out your stories, write your essays, fine-tune your resume, solicit your recommenders and, when the forms are released, work on the forms. The process for each school is time-consuming and if you plan to apply to three to five schools (or more), six months will give you sufficient time to think through and complete each application.

In Part 2 of this series we will address more commonly asked questions, so stay tuned. More to follow!

If you are planning on applying for your MBA this year, read our nine-step guide to MBA admissions. For answers to more specific questions about your MBA application, get in touch with us!

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