How to Get into Your Ideal Business School

by Staff Writers

Getting into business school is no easy task, especially when an individual's first choice is considered to be one of the county's top institutions. According to BusinessWeek, the nation's top three full-time MBA programs can be found at the University of Chicago, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively. Fortune Magazine reported that schools such as Harvard, Wharton and Stanford have said they only accept 10 percent of those who apply. Though the admissions process can be grueling and the competition will be intense, there are ways for prospective MBA students to maneuver their way into their ideal institution.

  1. Make a plan. So you know you want to go to business school, but how do you figure out which institution offers the right MBA for you? BusinessWeek has provided several steps prospective students can take on their way to meeting their educational goals. According to BusinessWeek, it is important to identify one's priorities, according to Kathleen Edwards, associate director of MBA admissions at Emory's Goizueta Business School. Thinking about career goals and the type of setting in which one would prefer to attend a program can all help pinpoint the ideal institution.
  2. Do some research. BusinessWeek provides several areas in which applicants should focus when they are investigating schools. Information on an institution's job placement opportunities may determine a student's chances of landing a paying position after graduation. According to Scott Shrum, director of MBA admissions research at Veritas Prep, schools do not go out of their way to share job placement information, he told BusinessWeek. Failure to seek out these statistics can lead individuals to enroll in a program only to be disappointed down the line by the job opportunities that are presented to them. Another good way to find out about a school and its culture is by contacting alumni. Most schools are willing to connect prospective students with these individuals, according to BusinessWeek. It is also possible to find former students through social networking websites like LinkedIn.
  3. Make a visit. If speaking to alumni and any additional research conducted still has not helped you narrow down your choices, then arranging a visit to a school can never hurt. Not only will it offer a firsthand experience of the institution and its culture, but it may provide an extra edge in the competitive admissions process. Shrum told BusinessWeek that students who incorporate specifics about a school's culture in their application essays and interview answers often impress admissions committees. "It's crazy not to visit your top three choices," Shrum told the news source. "Not only does it tell you whether you'll fit in with the culture, but it will make you a better applicant."
  4. Getting in. Though acceptance to your ideal program is not guaranteed, Fortune Magazine provided several tips that will surely move applicants in the right direction. Doing as well as you possibly can on the GMAT never hurts. Scores typically range from 200 to 800 with the median being 500. However, the average marks of students at top schools are usually 700 or higher. Recommendations are a crucial part of the admissions process that should not be rushed. An applicant should place more importance on how well their references know them, and less on how prestigious they might sound. Getting a top CEO to write a recommendation means nothing if they cannot provide specific examples about an individual.

Finally, start the process as far in advance as you can, as there is a lot to do and it could determine your entire future. No schools want to waste time on a rushed application, and getting stressed out at the last minute never does anybody any good.