Hello from the Pittsburgh Building! I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging because we are currently in the middle of Round 1 application review. The Round 2 deadline is fast-approaching - January 1 - with the majority of our applicants (especially international students) planning to apply during this round. Keep in mind that application completion is preferred by this deadline, as submission with missing components may miss the Round 2 review period. And now, some thoughts on the application process:
Applying to business school requires a balanced approach. Navigating the quantitative and qualitative components of the application can make the difference between admission to – or denial from – your ideal business school. While every school’s admissions requirements are different, there is a consensus among admissions offices that a healthy balance between the two often differentiates candidates. Yes, GMAT scores and GPA’s are important, but so is your leadership potential, intellectual curiosity, and knowledge of the programs to which you are applying. Approaching your application with this perspective in mind – and making efforts to mitigate imbalance – will strengthen your application’s efficacy.
Why are you applying to business school? What are your plans after business school? How will this specific business school help you to realize these plans? While you don’t have to explicitly answer these questions in your application, knowing the answers to these will guide your essays, help you to select your recommenders (keeping in mind that content is often more valuable than), and make your answers to interview questions more impactful. You might be surprised to know that many applicants have a hard time telling a consistent story from one assessment to the next, and those who do usually make the strongest impressions.
If you’re wondering how to start narrowing down your list of ideal schools or programs, quantitative measures can help you to gauge competitiveness. Most business schools publish class profiles to give you an idea of who is both admissible and successful in that school’s environment (in the form of GPA, GMAT scores, TOEFL, etc). The first challenge is to align your quantitative totals with the school’s, keeping in mind that averages do not mean minimums, nor should they prevent you from applying. Knowing that you are within a reasonable range from the school’s averages, the next step is to qualitatively assert your competitiveness. Putting these intangibles on paper is often where students struggle the most. How do your colleagues and superiors rate your leadership skills (in the form of recommendation letters), what makes you a good fit for the school – and conversely – what makes the school a good fit for you, and what differentiates you from the other applicants who are similar in the quantitative areas? Answering these questions is where you should spend a good amount of your time. You can’t change your undergraduate GPA, you shouldn’t take a standardized test too many times, and your work experience speaks for itself. The best thing you can do is paint the most authentic picture of yourself that you can, assuring the admissions decision-makers that you will be a great fit for both the school and your future. Best wishes in crafting your application!