MBA Applications–Frequently Asked Questions Part 2
Welcome to the second part of our two-part series on frequently asked questions that MBA applicants have. Since this process is so complex, there may be a few things that are highly specific for you, however, here are some general questions we get asked quite often. Please keep in mind 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 up with a concrete reason. So, if you can talk about what you did in that gap period, you can convince and even impress the admissions committee enough for them to see the need of your gap. Say, for example, you love to travel and took a gap of six months to spend time exploring the world. Instead of just stating that you spent time travelling, explain how meeting new people from different cultural background has changed the way you viewed the world and eventually how it has impacted your work and performance. On the other hand, say you had to take some time off due to some unforeseen circumstance like an accident, illness or a failed business. When talking about this, make sure you explain how this experience has shaped you into who you are today and has 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 as value-adds and 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 inside your college, work outside of your college and job, along with an outstanding GMAT score, internships and extra-curricular 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 someone who can is a good applicant and 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 experiences, while this is two years at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Some schools like 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 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 have progressed well 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 to make a good story and may make it harder for recommenders to highlight your strengths and weaknesses as you may not have contributed enough to the work environment.
How can a school visit help with my business school applications?
Visiting the school you want to apply to has a number of benefits. First, it helps you show a genuine interest in the school, called demonstrated interest, which some schools consider when reviewing your application. Second, it can help you write your ‘Why school X?’ essay as it will enable you to have an insight over someone who hasn’t visited that school. Apart from this, during your visit, you can meet current students and attend a class or two, which can help you gain a unique insight into the MBA programme and also allow you gauge what life is beyond the classes, allowing you to know what the university as a whole has to offer.
How to answer the ‘Why MBA now?’ question?
Before you start writing the dreaded ‘Why MBA?’ question, we recommend that you take a step back and introspect. Take some time and 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 this, start thinking about your long-term goals and map out the skills you need to develop in order to achieve these goals. Finally, validate the 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 being admitted are higher. Since most of the seats in the programme will be filled already, the competition to get an admit will be tougher. Also, if you are an international student, then you may find applying for a visa, confirming your accommodation and the like difficult to finish before the deadlines.