2nd in a 2-part series on MBA FAQs
Welcome to our two-part series on frequently asked questions from MBA applicants!
In Part 1 of this series, we addressed questions about the GMAT and questions about the MBA application. Here we answer some more general questions. Keep in mind, however, that these are guidelines and there may be exceptions.
Can I still apply for an MBA if I have a six-month gap in my employment/education?
A gap in your education or employment will only be viewed negatively if it isn’t backed by a concrete reason. So, if you can talk about what you did during that gap in your essays, you can convince and even impress the admissions committee enough for them to see the need for your gap. Say, for example, you love to travel and took a gap of six months to explore the world. Instead of merely stating that you spent time travelling, explain how meeting new people from different cultural backgrounds has changed your worldview and talk about how it has impacted your work and performance. On the other hand, say you had to take some time off due to unforeseen circumstances like an accident, illness or a failed business, make sure you explain how this experience made you the person you are today and how it helped you to realise your goals. By explaining the gap and its impact on your life, the admissions committee will be able to see these incidents as value-additions and therefore, view them positively.
Can I apply for an MBA if I have less than six months of work experience?
As long as you have showcased leadership qualities at your college, work outside of your college and job, along with an outstanding GMAT/GRE score, internships and extracurricular activities, you can apply for an MBA. A lot of business schools in the US are encouraging early career candidates as they do not want to miss out on a good applicant who has the potential to succeed after their MBA. For example, an early candidate at The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business typically has less than three years of work experience, while UCLA’s Anderson School of Management will accept early candidates with two years of work experience. Some business schools such as the Indian School of Business have an Early Entry option where you can apply and secure your admission to their programme and join when you have completed 24 months of professional experience. However, there is a downside to applying with less work experience. As most business schools require at least three to fours years of work experience, your options are limited, especially in Europe. You will also be competing with candidates who are further along in their careers and may have a more mature perspective. Having less work experience can also make it difficult to write your ‘Why MBA’ essay as you may not have enough material to make a good case. It may also be harder for recommenders to highlight your strengths and weaknesses as you may not have contributed enough to the work environment at the time of applying to business school.
How can a campus visit help with my business school applications?
Visiting the business school to which you want to apply has a number of benefits. First, it helps you show a genuine interest in the business school–called demonstrated interest–which some business schools consider when reviewing your application. Second, it can help you write your ‘Why school X?’ essay as you will have greater insight over someone who hasn’t visited. Apart from this, during your visit, you can meet current students and attend a few classes which will help you gain unique insights into the MBA programme and also allow you to gauge what life is like beyond classes, allowing you to know what the university as a whole has to offer.
How do I answer the ‘Why MBA?’ question?
Before you start writing the dreaded ‘Why MBA?’ question, we recommend that you take a step back and introspect. Think about whether an MBA is the right next step for you. Then, chalk out the specific reasons why you want to study in a business school. Are you seeking an MBA for career growth? For personal development? For a career switch? After you identify your reason, start thinking about your long-term goals and map out the skills you need to develop to achieve these goals. Finally, validate your need for an MBA by assuming you ‘already’ have an MBA degree. Did it help in achieving your career goals? Once you have the answers to these questions, you will find attempting the question a lot easier. Good luck!
Can I apply to a US business school in Round 3?
Technically, you can apply in Round 3. However, we recommend that you apply either in Round 1 or Round 2 as the chances of your being admitted are higher. Since most seats in the programme will be filled already, the competition to be admitted will be tougher. Also, if you are an international student, you may find applying for a visa, confirming your accommodation and other operational tasks difficult to finish before the deadlines.