12 Essential Tips for a Successful MBA Admission

Group of people holding a speech balloon with 'MBA' written on it garagestock / Shutterstock.com

The only thing between you and your MBA programme is the application process.

Once you’ve nailed that, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your career goals. But as you may already know, the admission process is a long and complex road with rigorous applications, GMAT exams and challenging interviews.

But it’s not all doom and gloom!

With the correct mindset and skills, you can easily land a spot at your favourite business school.

And to help you succeed in bagging your spot on your dream course, we’ve listed 12 essentials tips below that you need to follow! 

1. Begin Your Application Process Early

As mentioned previously, many business programmes and MBA courses have a long and vigorous application process, sometimes for a length of six to eight months. During this period, the school accepts applications, reviews them and provides offers to their favourite candidates.

It’s key to get your application sent as soon as you can. This will not only impress the admission committee, but it will also show them that you’re keen on being part of the business programme.

You’ll also have less competition at that point, which may end up working in your favour if the school is quick to take your application further.

2. Apply to More Than One School

Although you might have your heart set on a specific school, it’s a good idea to keep your options open and apply to more than one university.

You could look at school rankings to determine which are most suitable for you – you can do so by talking to university students and alumni to get a better understanding of what the school has to offer.

Alternatively, you could consider completing an online programme. These accredited programmes are perfect for graduates who don’t have the time to commit to a full year of studies at university.

3. Prepare for the GMAT Exam

A valid GMAT score is a key requirement of any MBA admission. You will usually need to submit your score along with your application, so the test shouldn’t be taken lightly.

It’s vital to adequately prepare for the exam and ensure you have all the right answers to the questions. You can do so by preparing question cards, revising with a friend or taking a practice test online.

4. Follow all the Steps

It’s important to read the application instructions thoroughly to ensure that you don’t miss any information, which can be easily done with so many steps involved.

The application process will vary from university to university, but you’ll generally need an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification and have at least two years’ working experience. You’ll also need to submit an application essay along with your GMAT score, as well as a completed application form, a CV, two references and an English language certificate such as IELTS or TOEFL (if it is your second language).

5. Develop a Personal Brand

When you’re completing your MBA admission, you need to market yourself correctly, which means that you need to develop a personal brand. Share parts of your personality and your experience with the admissions team and highlight why you’re different to other applicants.

You’ll also need to ensure that your social media profiles match up with your statements, so get rid of those drunken student union pictures and start sharing more business-related articles and posts!

6. Get an Academic CV Together

A well-written CV can carry you through the application process. It’s the first document that will catch the admissions team’s attention, and it can also provide insight into the type of skills that you possess.

An academic CV will differ from the CV that you will use to apply for a job. This will focus on your soft skills rather than the work that you have completed. For example, It will demonstrate your excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as your ability to lead and work as part of a team.

7. Define Your Goals

From the start to the end of your application process, you need to clearly outline your goals and visions. You need to show that this lines up with the MBA programme and that it showcases why you’ll be an ideal student.

You can do this through your submission essay, during the interview process and within a follow-up email after your interview. You will need to show that you’re focused, motivated and eager to study independently to progress within your career.

8. Nail the Interview

Admission interviews can be tricky, especially considering how they can be the make or break of your professional future. That said, don’t put too much pressure on yourself; instead, look at the interview as an open conversation with your university dean or lecturer and be open and honest about your experience and aspirations.

In order to do so, be sure to prepare for some common interview questions – be ready to offer great examples that effectively highlight your skills. And don’t forget to dress to impress!

9. Select Your References Carefully

When selecting your references, you must choose people that can give a real insight into your skills, behaviour and personal qualities, as they can have a huge impact on your overall process.

It needs to be somebody who truly believes in your skills and who will enthusiastically sell you to the admissions team – not somebody who will merely write a generic letter with no real value.

If you’re not sure who to approach, consider asking a former lecturer you worked closely with or a manager that you were fond of! Remember: whoever you choose to ask to be your referees will need to have overseen any projects you’ve worked on to articulate what you can achieve.

10. Write a Stand-Out Admission Essay

When writing your admission essay, you need to focus on telling a story that demonstrates what type of person you are and what skills you possess, instead of simply telling the reader your whole life story.

As with a cover letter, your admission essay needs to provide in-depth details on why you achieved the results that your CV claims. Remember that you need to show that you still have something to work – don’t forget that you’re applying for an MBA programme and not a job position!

11. Personalise Your Application

Following on from the previous point, you need to personalise – not copy and paste – your essay for each application. Each application should feel like it’s been written for that specific school – and if it hasn’t, rest assured that the assessment officer will know.

You can do this by avoiding generalised statements and focusing on providing facts that relate to the university that you’re applying for.

12. Don’t Give Up

If you’re unsuccessful, don’t give up on your dreams of completing an MBA degree. Ask for feedback on where you went wrong, review your application, gain more experience and reapply the following year!

You can also build more connections in the meantime and search for a trusted mentor that can guide you through the admission process in the future.

Applying for an MBA is far from easy – you need to demonstrate that you’re motivated, dedicated and eager to learn and that you also possess the skills needed to succeed.

By following these tips above, however, you should be on the road to success in no time!

Have you recently applied for an MBA programme? Let us know about your personal experience in the comments section below.