Are You an Ideal Candidate?

Posted on October 30, 2007 | Filed in MBA

Find the right fit! You have heard of this line often. But what is the right fit? How can you tell which schools value you more and which schools fit you better? First, think ahead and think broadly. Think like a business school dean. Think like a business owner. What is the status of the current global economy? Which direction is it heading? Will there be a possible boom or recession after I graduate? How is the domestic economy doing? How about the industry or sector I indicated as my career choices on my application? How will those trends impact business schools’ job placement statistics and ranking? These questions should get you to start thinking about the general business school demand for the type of applicants with similar talents and professional backgrounds as yours. To find out more, do some research and talk to some bright people. Second, think about specifics of each school. What is this business school known for? How are they doing in comparison to other major competing business schools? What are their stated goals for the short- and long-run? Is there any recent personnel change such as a new dean or a new admissions director? How does it influence schools’ direction and emphasis on student recruitment? You can find answers by reading good articles, talking to alums and visiting business schools. Every organization including any non-profit and for-profit businesses needs to do business planning. The same is true for business schools. They try to forecast the trends and stay ahead of the competition to achieve their mission by admitting “the best and the brightest” students for their schools. A school’s reputation lies in its alums and specifically, their success and loyalty. Finding the right fit is equally as important to them as is to you. After getting a good sense of the underlying trends and desired student profiles of each school, you need to do some soul-searching. Which schools do I have a better chance of getting into? Which schools does my heart belong to? After you are lucky enough to get a few admissions letters to choose from, then the art rests solely on your decision-making ability. But before you get there, you need to do all the hard work putting all the applications together. This can be a great self-discovery and self-improvement process without any doubt. You will get out as much as you put in. So your hard work will definitely pay off. Even if you don’t make it into your top schools, you will be a fuller person with more self-awareness. The next step is to do a good job marketing yourself! Tailor your application and emphasize why you are unique (show your personality, not just your qualifications) and why the school will benefit from having you as a student and an alum in the future. For example, due to the demanding nature of the investment banking business, very few women make it into it. Even for those women who managed to get there during the heydays, many of them, if not the vast majority of them, exited a few years afterwards. To address this issue, business schools have started to favor young female candidates with great potential so that they can make a good career out of their most independent and productive years before dividing time up between work and family. This is good news for new female college graduates. It tells you that you may have a higher chance of getting in now. But you need to tailor your application to make these pluses stand out. As to male applicants, since they traditionally represent more than 65% of the MBA classes, it is instrumental to demonstrate leadership and uniqueness such as entrepreneurialism, untraditional experiences, and international exposure. Similar conclusions to the above can be drawn based on relevant data such as economy and industry statistics. Many MBA related internet sites only elaborate on the past and proven facts without forward looking insights. But you can do more yourself by developing your own visionary abilities! In reality, those who have a good vision and a sound judgment are the best candidates sought after by business schools.
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