How To Get Into Business School

Bad news: with regards to business school admissions, it is a whole lot more challenging today than it was 5-10 years ago. More and more employers are demanding that employees carry business degrees for senior-level positions. Employees are listening and loading up admissions committees with applications. This makes it harder for you.

But, Varsity Tutors is available to help with more information on business school admissions strategies. And the best part is: we have private tutors waiting to help you improve your GMAT and overall application.

Today, business schools can be more selective, and they are looking for the next CEOs and senior leaders at Fortune 500 companies. If you can prove you have that potential—you’re in—if not, you’re out. Here’s how to prove you have that potential:

Know yourself: What do you want to do with your life? If you don’t have an answer, you’re already one foot in the hole. If you know what you want to do AND HOW TO DO IT, you’re a step ahead of the rest. Let your application materials show that.

Know the school: Please, don’t spew out stats about the school like its ranking and how many students apply. Instead, try to connect with your school on a deeper level. Look for its mission statement, student/professor testimonials, and employment data about alumni. Maybe the school has connections to non-profits or social causes? How do you fit in with that and with the school? Let your essay and other application materials show that.

Work experience: This is the most important factor in your entire application. You should have a couple years of professional experience (full-time positions, not internships).  Admissions want to see that you are already on your way to a great career, and that their education will take you one step further. You need to prove that this school will help you get a better job, not your first job. And that’s the difference between an internship and full-time job experience.

What you’re paid doesn’t matter: But who you work for does. Being in Google’s Accounting Department at $35,000 a year is more valuable to admissions than working as an accountant at an unheard of firm in Ohio at $100,000.

Start a business: Yes, we understand that one does not simply roll out of bed and start a successful business. But, think about it. Other students are doing it, and they’re taking your seat at business school. Entrepreneurial skills are a must, but you can also prove you have them by creating new departments or projects at your current job. You will need these skills as a senior-level manager or higher in your future career. So, prove you have that potential by doing it now.

When to apply: It’s best to have 2-4 years of professional working experience, then apply. But, schools will consider the quality of your experience. Ask yourself this: Have I made a significant impact on my company? If yes, then you’re ready – now just convince admissions that you have.

Apply in the first round: You can dramatically improve your chances if you can meet the first round of applications because that’s when the most seats are available. If you wait until the third round, you will have a lot more competition for fewer seats. But, it’s still important to submit a strong application. If you’re rushing through your app and GMAT prep just to meet the first round, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Applying to business school takes time, and you can always wait until next year.

Personal experience: For whatever reason, business schools have always been attracted to students with interesting experiences, such as: climbing Mount Everest, hiking the Appalachian Trail, living and studying in Hong Kong, etc. Those students make everyone else seem boring. Still, you don’t have to go to the moon to get into Stanford, but you should do something different and interesting like starting a business, a really cool social cause, or a popular blog.

Essay: Try to show who you are as a person, a professional, and as a student at their school. Dig deeper than your academic/professional accolades. What is the most remarkable thing you have done in your career? Something more than working 70 hours a week and getting an early promotion, something that is unique. One student wrote her essay about learning how to shoot guns. This helped her become more connected at her company because the senior-level execs all talked business at the shooting range. And with that essay, she got into the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, according to the Washington Post.

Letters of recommendation: Just like your essay, these should tell the story of who you are as a professional. Try to avoid former professors, and ask your supervisors at work. They will be able to write more persuasive letters that better speak to your professional abilities.

GMAT: Top schools want to see GMAT scores in the 90th percentile (700-800 with a 5-6 on the essay). But, every school looks at the GMAT differently. Some place a major emphasis on it with strict minimum requirements. Other schools, like the Wharton School, claim they don’t have a minimum GMAT requirement. Every school considers it, but the difference is that some schools look at it first, and others look at it last. The average score for all students accepted into business school in 2010 was 624, and that will remain fairly steady for a few years.

Varsity Tutors is here to help you improve your chances of getting into business school. Contact us today for more information on business school admissions and how a private GMAT tutor can help you.