What’s the need?
The stakes are high. Getting into a top-tier business school can make all the difference in achieving your long-term career potential. And the return on your investment is predictably higher over the course of a lifetime for those who don’t have to settle for a lesser school. Delaying enrollment by even one year can have a five-figure cost in terms of post-MBA compensation.
The compelling value proposition of a top MBA motivates a wide range of applicants to put their hearts and souls into the process of gaining admission. Even if your candidacy is a strong one – academically, professionally and personally – the competition for admission to the top 10 business schools is incredibly tough. Acceptance rates are less than 20 percent at even the least selective school in the top ten and as low as 8 percent at the elite ones. Given the quality of applicants that these programs attract, you can be sure that there are some amazing individuals whose qualifications are better than yours, but whose applications never see the light of day. Typically, the reason for rejection is that they don’t know or understand how b-schools assess and compare applicants and make the final decision.
Aren’t admissions requirements consistent and predictable?
No way. Subjectivity is a constant throughout the admissions process. The schools rarely discourage anyone from applying because they’re eager to fill their pool with as many potential students as possible. And almost no schools provide feedback or explanations when an applicant is declined. Different individuals with varying experience and authority in the admissions office view and assess the flood of applications as they arrive. The various readers interpret the open-ended narrative essays in different ways. As the finite number of available seats in each class is filled, the priorities that the school looks for in assessing remaining applicants can change from day to day. So, it’s no wonder that some excellent applicants get left at the gate, while others with lesser credentials are invited to enroll.
On the other hand, this subjectivity could work for you. If your profile has some blemishes or holes, the application process offers ample opportunities to explain and mitigate such vulnerabilities and even turn them into strengths.
What are my options?
So how does an applicant who has never applied to business schools before know what strategies and tactics are going to maximize the chances for success?
Friends and associates who attended b-school are not the most knowledgeable or reliable resource. Even with the best of intentions, they have limited data and personal biases that can lead you down the wrong path. The fact is that they don’t know with certainty how or why they were admitted themselves, let alone how you can get admitted.
Online forums and blogs are filled with lots of free advice from other applicants and self-proclaimed “experts” who might sound very appealing, but could be dead wrong for your candidacy. The fact is that they don’t know your full background or goals, and thus their quick solutions could actually harm your chances.
The dozens of “how to get admitted” books available for ten bucks or less at Amazon.com look like a real bargain, until you realize that thousands of other applicants have read or are reading the same books. The “secrets” that the authors claim to possess are not so secret once the rest of the applicant universe has read and followed them. And don’t think for a moment that the b-school admissions staff hasn’t read the same books and seen the same approach from thousands of other applicants before you.
What’s the best resource for you?
The fact is that it takes customized strategies and tactics to align your specific candidacy with each school’s selection criteria and to make your best case for admission. While many applicants are successful in developing a winning plan on their own, the insight, time and good fortune required to do so can be prohibitive.
Engaging an experienced, ethical and qualified admissions consultant may be the right move for you. The stakes are high, the subjectivity of the admissions process is undeniable and your time and future are valuable. Just as you would enlist a specialist if you were facing an important health, financial or legal issue, then engaging a trustworthy MBA admissions consultant is an appropriate decision and a wise investment.
What to do next?
The first step in a successful MBA admissions campaign is to get an objective, professional evaluation of your candidacy for the schools that you really want to attend. With 14 years of experience helping nearly 2,500 business school applicants to succeed, The MBA Exchange is ready and eager to help you achieve your objectives.