MBA Application FAQs - Part I

Below are some of the most ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ (FAQs) by MBA applicants. We hope these ‘Should I’ answers help clear some of your doubts about the MBA application process:

Should I apply early or wait to improve my application?

There is never a Perfect application regardless of the amount of time in hand. The earlier you apply, the better your chances. Apply Early decision to your dream schools where you know you’ll go in a heartbeat and are ready to commit by putting down your deposit. Otherwise Round 1 is better than Round 2. Statistically, there is a slightly higher chance of admission in Round 1 as the majority of the class is still empty. Applying in Round 1 also demonstrates your affection for the school and improves your chances of securing Scholarship. Round 3 is a big NO, especially for International applicants, as most of the class is full, making it extremely competitive. However, this doesn’t mean you should rush a sub-par application. If more time is genuinely needed, you can move the application to next Round. We recommend scheduling your applications across rounds, with some of the more competitive ones in Round 1, rather than targeting all applications in a single round.

Should I re-take the GMAT?

A lot of applicants face dilemma of re-taking GMAT to improve score or focusing on their Applications. GMAT is the only objective component of B-School application. All others, including Essays, LORs and interviews are subjective. AdCom looks at GMAT score as a checkbox, to assess whether applicant possesses the required analytical horsepower to survive academic rigour of the program. In some cases, a low GMAT score can be balance with a high Undergrad GPA. Overall though, GMAT is a critical component of your application. However, re-taking GMAT only makes sense if you’re able to add at least +20 additional points to your score. Anything else and you risk wasting your time and coming across as someone who doesn’t understand their priorities in life. So make an honest assessment of your ability and if you feel you can improve the score +20 points, re-take the GMAT else apply all your efforts in crafting the best application possible. Also, GMAT is something that should be nailed well before, at least 7-8 weeks before R1, R2 deadlines. Several students who end up doing both GMAT and Applications in parallel, end up not doing great in either. Another caveat, especially for Indian applicants, is that your GMAT score is compared to your fellow applicant pool i.e. the pool amongst which you’re trying to get selected. For instance, Indian Male engineer is one of the most competitive applicant pool with very high GMAT scores. So make sure your score is competitive for you’re the appliance pool you’ll be compared to.

Should I volunteer or take up a social activity to make my profile well rounded?

While academic record and professional experiences are key, having a well-rounded personality is equally important. Business schools produce leaders and a key leadership trait is balance. Adcom like students who bring diverse life experiences, with a good mix of professional and extra-curricular involvement. Varied experiences enhance on-campus experience and add to the social life of students. A number of key friendships at B-School happen while pursuing non-academic interests like Golfing, Running or working for a non-profit. However, joining a social activity or volunteering just before you apply won’t fly. What adcom want is genuine interest in a non-academic activity over a long period of time. So think of something you were involved in since college and would like to continue during your MBA. Something you genuinely enjoy doing brings you meaning. It could be skydiving or teaching underprivileged students over weekend. Rather then breadth, choose one or two activities and focus on depth of involvement. Things that you genuinely pursue will make you unique and help you stand out.

Should I quit my job to focus on GMAT and MBA Applications?

The straight answer is: NO. Quitting your job will give you a gap on your resume which negates any benefit of increase in GMAT score or higher quality of essays. In addition, you will be compared to your peers who have managed their job and MBA applications in parallel. The entire application process is a test to evaluate how good you are in balancing your daytime job with your GMAT and applications. At B-school and beyond you will have to juggle several responsibilities and the AdCom wants to evaluate your ability to effectively multi-task and prioritize. A better strategy is to choose less stressful work responsibilities and not to volunteer for high workload projects during application season. However, this needs to be balanced with the fact that you will need good recommendation from your current manager in most cases. So make sure any change at work during application season doesn’t impact your recommendations. I know it sounds tough, but hey, who said getting into a top MBA program was easy!

Stay tuned for some more ‘Should I’ FAQs in Part-II of this series