Stand Out When Applying for Executive MBA

The decision to leave the workforce and go back to school for your MBA requires serious thought. Once you’ve made the decision, though, it’s time to act fast and begin thinking about the application process. The most successful applicants to MBA programs are those who carefully think about their strengths and weaknesses, craft a thoughtful essay, and have the work experience and test scores to back them up. Crafting a superior application requires significant time and energy, so give yourself several months to complete the work.

Brainstorm Areas that Make You Unique

The biggest mistake business school applicants make is to write what they think the admissions committee wants to hear, according to Jeremy Shinewald, a business school graduate and author of “The Complete Start-To-Finish MBA Admissions Guide”. Avoid constructing an essay that focuses on why you’ve known since you were 12 years old that you wanted to get your MBA. Even if it’s true, it doesn’t provide a justification for why, at this point in time, you’re the best candidate for a coveted slot in the school’s MBA program.

Instead, brainstorm things that make you unique. Think about specialized skills you’ve developed, experiences you’ve had while on the job, obstacles you’ve overcome, or projects you’ve initiated. Your unique angle doesn’t necessarily have to come from your time in the workforce, but it should be relevant to your career goals. For example, maybe you traveled the world for two years and became fluent in French and Mandarin Chinese. Tying this unique attribute to your business goals (perhaps you intend to do international business) makes you stand out from other applicants.

Know Your Audience

It is ill-advised to write a single application essay and send it to each school you’re interested in. Instead, tailor your statement to each particular school. Think carefully about two or three things that make a particular school a strong fit with your skills and interests. Perhaps they have faculty who specialize in a particular area, important resources available to students, or a unique culture. Be specific in your essay. For example, you might write, “The MBA program at Alliant International University is a strong fit with my interests because of its Entrepreneurship track, which will give me the skills to manage my social media start-up company.”

Don’t Ignore Your Hard Numbers

Some applicants are told that your hard numbers, like GMAT scores and GPA, don’t matter as much as a strong personal essay. While it’s true a candidate with a poor essay is unlikely to get into business school, admissions committees ask for your test scores and GPA for a reason, according to U.S. News and World Report. These scores show that you have strong analytical skills and the ability to handle a tough workload. If your GMAT or GPA are at or below average, demonstrate your abilities by highlighting your quantitative experience, suggests Business Insider. If you have a low GPA or rusty quantitative skills, consider taking accounting, statistics, calculus, or economics coursework at your local college. This shows that you have the ability to transition from the workplace back to a high-powered academic environment.

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