Admissions directors are frequently asked "What is the most important part of the application?" Each piece of the application provides the admissions committee with different information about a candidate's skills, all of which is important to the evaluation of his or her candidacy. The admissions committee considers candidates multi-dimensionally. Critical areas they must assess include a candidate's career goals and work experience, academic ability, motivation and drive, leadership and teamwork skills, and overall fit with the school.
Components of the Application:
The MBA is a professional degree. For this reason, applicants have to be able to explain why they want an MBA. The necessity of the degree and a candidate's professional goals should be clearly articulated. While he or she does not need to specify the exact job desired, the applicant will need to be able to articulate whether his or her goals include a change in career (and why!), the ability to assume different responsibilities, the development of skills necessary to start a business, etc.
The information collected from your resume, letters of recommendation, interviews, and essays tells the admissions committee whether a candidate for admission is at the point in his or her career where an MBA will be beneficial. Is the applicant experienced enough to recognize what he or she has learned and what is needed to grow professionally? An applicantís work experience typically demonstrates many things that the candidate has progressed professionally; learned to recognize his or her strengths and weaknesses; understands the challenges of working with diverse groups of people; and accepted risk and responsibility.
Strong academic skills are necessary to complete your courses successfully. The demands and stress of MBA study are high, and the admissions committee wants to make sure that you have the necessary preparation. Your university records and your GMAT information provide a lot of the information needed to assess this.
Motivation and drive
The MBA is a degree designed to prepare its graduates to be able to manage complex business projects and personnel. Successful managers demonstrate certain personal qualities, such as motivation, leadership, and decision-making skills. The admissions committee evaluates essays, interviews, and letters of recommendation to learn what kinds of challenges and rewards motivate the applicant, what kinds of things you are passionate about. Just being a good student is not enough. Candidates for the MBA have to demonstrate that they learn continuously, take initiative, and are proud of accomplishment. Candidates should be sure to include experiences and anecdotes that demonstrate these qualities in their essays and interviews.
Leadership and Teamwork
MBA candidates need to be able to demonstrate their leadership and teamwork abilities. Admissions committees are looking for evidence of initiative, willingness to take risks, influence (direct or indirect) that brought about change at work or at home, or many other examples of leadership potential. Additionally, since so much of the work during the MBA degree and upon its completion is done in teams, it is important for the applicant to show that he or she has some team experience. (This could be at work, in sports, or even something that was accomplished collaboratively with family or friends.) The committee wants to hear how he or she grew by working with others to achieve common goals and overcome challenges or disagreements. It is very important when describing leadership and team experiences to give specific information about what was learned and the impact of the experience on the candidate's professional development.
The MBA degree is an important step in one's professional and academic development. For this reason, it is of critical importance to have researched the MBA program carefully. There are a number of ways to do this, including conversations with alumni; meetings with representatives from the business school at fairs, conferences and information sessions; and visits to the campus. As part of a successful application, the candidate will need to explain exactly why that MBA will help him or her achieve both personal and professional goals. Each business school offers a unique opportunity; the successful application will demonstrate how that particular opportunity will benefit the student, as well as how the MBA candidateís experiences and skills will benefit the other students, faculty and staff associated with the program.
The chart illustrates how each component of the application contributes to the various dimensions of an MBA applicant's candidacy: