Getting into an MBA (masters of business administration) program depends on a number of factors, four of which are of crucial importance: GPA (grade point average), GMAT (graduate management admission test), work experience and essays. In contrast to programs like medical school, where a low GPA or MCAT (medical college admission test) will immediately put your application in the no pile, MBA admissions offices are a little more flexible a weak performance in one area can be made up for with a strong performance in another, and experience is more important than numbers.
GPA and GMAT
Your GPA and your GMAT show that you are good at being a student, and are therefore important as an MBA program is intensive – if you have a ton of work experience but have low or nonexistant figures in this area the odds are you won’t do that great in an MBA program. Some people’s brains just aren’t built that way.
However, while the GPA and GMAT are an important component, they are still just that – a component. So don’t lose faith if yours are less-than-optimal. You’re just going to need to focus on the other parts of the application process a little more heavily, and prove that you won’t flunk out.
This factor is probably the most important in the application process. Don’t just put where you’ve worked on your resume, but describe exactly what skills your work experience has taught you and how an MBA would improve them.
You also need to make your work experience stand out. If you’re a high-powered salesman, consistently breaking records for a midlevel company, be sure to focus on your position. If, by contrast, you’re a low-level office clerk in a prestigious company, be sure to focus on your company’s accomplishments (which you can take partial credit for by association). The name of the game is emphasizing your strengths. Work experience alone isn’t enough you need to show what it did for you personally.
Your essay is your chance to show the admissions board what makes you unique. International experience is important, so mention whether you speak a foreign language, worked in a foreign country, or traveled extensively. Write about your community involvement, what you added to it and what you took from it. Don’t just write a narrative, though. You need to keep everything focused on why you are an excellent candidate for an MBA program.
Most important in the essay is to write about things that the other parts of your application don’t cover. For example, if your GMAT and GPA are high, there is no need to write about how smart you are this is already clear. Rather, show your leadership potential. Write about changes you were able to implement in organizations and about your abilities to influence people.
In short, don’t write about skills the MBA program will create. Rather, write about what it will enhance. Don’t write about what you are, but write about what you can be.