By Bo Breuklander, Associate, Digital Communications, AACSB International
Once you decide to apply to business school, it is best to check the requirements again and again. There are many components to consider for both undergraduate and graduate entry.
The application process is tough and getting into a great b-school is competitive. Marketing yourself effectively is an important chunk of the admission process. Research the key faculty members at the school and tailor your application materials, such as a statement of intent, personal essay, or an interview to match the interests of those members and the program as a whole. Do not focus on your test scores, numbers will speak for themselves. Avoid reiterating what is listed on your resume. Instead, focus on information that will help the decision-maker understand why you chose this path and where you want to go from here. Show them that you want to be involved and excel, not just coast through classes.
Bloomberg Businessweek recently performed a Q&A session with the assistant dean of admissions at Columbia University, an AACSB-accredited school. When asked if there were tips to help an applicant stand out, the assistant dean mentioned involvement and participation. Admissions councils avoid potential spectators, while targeting individuals who are active. Many applications provide a section to specify activities not listed on the resume. Be sure to let them know you are well-rounded.
Perhaps most importantly, be yourself and be personable. There is no one else like you. This is the easiest way to stand out. Personal qualities set the tone for your application review because they separate you from candidates with similar resumes. Be sure to highlight your strengths and leadership qualities.
If a school requires a score from a standardized admissions test, such as the ACT, SAT, GMAT, or GRE, take the exam while your math skills are fresh. Do not wait until the last minute. The test scores are typically good for three to five years. If you are unsure of attending b-school now or later, it is recommended you still take the admissions exam—especially the GMAT. Be sure to submit an unofficial score to the school soon after the test, and follow up with the official score when it becomes available.
When deciding on which school is right for you, keep in mind AACSB Accreditation is one of the most important affirmations of a quality business school. AACSB business and accounting accreditation represent the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide. Only 5% of schools offering business degrees worldwide meet the rigorous standards of AACSB Accreditation. The process confirms that AACSB-accredited schools provide relevant knowledge and practices, and reflect an understanding of today’s complex business environment.
Once you narrow your list of b-schools and begin applying, do not be intimidated by the process. The application requirements are designed to give the admissions council insight into what the applicant brings to the table. These councils look at the whole picture, and not just one aspect of your application. If you have covered the bases and sent all of the necessary material, you are setting yourself up for success in b-school. The right school will be happy to have you.