How to get an admit to a top tier MBA program

Getting into the full-time MBA programs at the leading B-schools is a gateway to success. It opens doors that were closed for you in spite of an illustrious career or academic track record. Reason is that the leading b-schools prepare a candidate holistically, imparting experiential learning that transforms candidates for leadership positions in leading corporates.

How do candidates actually make it? I have collated a set of parameters on which prestigious b-schools evaluate incoming candidates, and how you can secure an admit.

  • Consistent academic record :

The leading b-schools have rigorous academic content, imparting you skills across a wide spectrum such as leadership and ethics, operations management, marketing, finance and investments, among others. The programs are highly competitive, where you compete with the best minds of this world. A consistent pre-MBA academic record is a signal to the admissions committee that a candidate will be able to perform well and contribute to the learnings of the cohort. Gaps or inconsistencies in academic records can raise red-flags unless elucidated appropriately through the channels of essays or SoPs or interview discussions.

Candidates must note that a consistent academic record is just one leg of the evaluation process. Its good to have, but doesn’t guarantee an admit.

  • Score in competitive exams

A good score in competitive exam such as CAT or GMAT is the first wall that a candidate needs to scale in order to be considered for an admit to a prestigious B-school. All b-schools have detailed information of their current cohort on their websites, which give indicative scores that are good to have. A high score doesn’t guarantee an admit, but signals your logical thinking capability and your competitive ability. The b-schools typically publish a range of scores and an average or median, which can be thought as benchmarks. The range would typically follow a normal distribution, with aspirants on the low end of the range having exceptional profile or interview performance.

Please note once you reach the interview stage, GMAT or CAT scores are just the qualifying criterion for the PI. Your admit would heavily depend on performance in interview.

  • Depth of extra-curriculars

This is one of the most important aspects of securing an admit. Leading b-schools seek well rounded professionals in their full-time programs. A strong track record in extra-curriculars portrays a candidate as someone who goes beyond the job description for giving back to society. Spikes in extra-curriculars such as in sports, quizzes, dance / drama, travel, social work, or others are favored by the admission panels.

Be ready to showcase the most relevant extra-curriculars on your resume, or weave in your learnings from an activity in your essay or SOPs. This is also once chance to show what you are passionate about. A candidate must be careful not to turn extra-curricular section on the resume into a laundry list of items but rather seek to show spikes.

Extra-curriculars are often the talking points in a personal interview. So be ready to answer questions on them, and use them to guide your interview panel into your familiar territory.

  • Marketable skills

One of the factors in rankings of leading B-schools is the ROI (Return on Investment), which essentially tracks the percentage increase in salary of candidates post MBA, or the percentage of candidates placed within 3 months after graduation, or the quality of their roles and firms post-MBA. Candidates from niche profiles such as R&D are difficult to place as their skills are highly ‘asset specific’. B-schools always prefer candidates whose resume or SOP talks about skills that are marketable to a prospective recruiter.

For candidates from niche background, it is essential to craft their story in a way that portrays their skill as a marketable one. Many actually make the cut despite niche profiles, and land up some of the best roles in industry post-MBA. It all depends on how well you market yourself as a product.

  • Attitude and Clarity of thought

Right attitude is the most sought after skill in today’s world. Its not just enough to be talented, or have strong academic or extra-curricular records. What matters is what a person does with that talent.

In a famous speech, cricketer-commentator Harsha Bhogle talks about how attitude is more important that someone’s ability or talent. As one moves up the corporate ladder, ability or talent becomes the most useless skills one possess. Beyond a point its all attitude that matters.

The essays and SOP, and discussions with the admission panel in personal interview are a candidates’ chance to portray their attitude. With the right attitude, interview becomes a piece of cakewalk. Just as someone spends 3-4 years in earning a bachelors degree and 12 years prior to that to be eligible for the bachelors degree, attitude is something that needs to be bred over time.

As Malcom Gladwell says, “who you are cannot be separated from where you are from”. Your attitude is a reflection of your true self.

  • Integrity and Values

I cannot stress this aspect lesser. Be honest in your b-school application. All gaps and holes in your career till this point can be plugged with the right kind of story. But dishonesty is the biggest red flag and can lead to rejection of candidature inspite of stellar performance.

Leading B-schools have a strong value system, and expect its candidates to be a reflection of this value system. Hence ethics and integrity are overarching factors in a top-tier MBA admission.

Use these broad aspects to guide you, strategise for the MBA application. Get in touch with us for a personalized approach to your MBA journey.

#GMAT #TopTierMBA #Attitude #liveyourdreams


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