Which MBA Programs Are Right For Me?

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Linda Abraham 
Date: 24 August 2021

Having completed your bachelor’s degree and probably several years of work experience, you’ve decided that you’re ready to go back to school for your MBA. You now have another decision to make: How do you decide where to apply? Which MBA programs are the right ones for you? Which ones are likely to want to admit you?

This is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make, and you want to be sure that you’re setting your sights on the best options for you. Before you can decide what you need from an MBA program, you have to do some self-assessment and take a realistic look at your profile. Taking the time now to look long and hard at your qualifications will save you time, money, and heartache in the long run. You will be able to see if your dream school is an achievable goal, or really just a pipedream. You will identify the schools that are looking for students with your qualifications, and you may even discover that your perfect MBA program is one that you never even considered.

 Here are the elements of your profile that you need to evaluate:

1- Employment history and work experience

This includes such factors as the industry you worked in as well as the company and position you held, how your accomplishments compared to your peers, how fast/far you have advanced, and how much of an impact you have had, whether in formal or informal leadership roles. You will also need to assess any gaps in your employment history, the reasons for them and how you filled them. Perhaps you took an unpaid internship for the experience or maybe used the time to volunteer, pick up new skills, or explore your extracurricular interests.

Evaluate your strengths as well as your weaknesses or challenges. Strengths can be fulfilling a unique role in your industry, extraordinary advancement, or exceptional leadership. Challenges could include working in a slow-growing company with increasing responsibility but little possibility for promotion, having to compete with and stand out among other ambitious colleagues who are also your teammates, or dealing with high-stress situations. The way you meet with and frame your challenges can often showcase your greatest strengths. 

2- Academic Stats

Included in this element are your undergrad and grad (if applicable) GPA and transcripts, and test scores. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in each of these areas to find your total stats picture. But don’t just look at the numbers, look at the trends. Do you have a weak GPA and a strong, balanced GMAT? Did your GPA go up as you progressed through college and is your GMAT quant score over the eightieth percentile? This record will take you further than a GPA that started out as a 4.0 but trended down and is combined with a GMAT quant score around the sixtieth percentile. The same final results take on a new meaning when you look at the trends. If your GPA is on the lower side – and especially if there was a downward trend even with a strong GMAT – it’s a good idea to take additional classes, and ace them. The recent As will help allay any doubts concerning your academic record.

3- Post-MBA Goals

Think about the following when considering your goals after B-school:

  •   What is your current industry and function? Where do you see yourself after your MBA?
  •   Are you hoping to make a major career change or a smaller career move once you have your MBA?
  •   How does your present position connect to your post-MBA goals?
  •   If you want to make a major career change, what do you need to do, besides getting your MBA, to make your new career a reality?
  •   What elements in an MBA program will launch you on the trajectory toward achieving your post-MBA goals?

    4- Extracurricular Activities

    How you spend your time outside of work/school can say a lot about you, and can make you stand out from other MBA applicants. Some programs put more emphasis on these activities than others, and how much weight they carry will depend on other factors in your application. Extracurriculars are great ways to get leadership experience or help fill in gaps you might have in your work experience. They also can demonstrate your commitment, add a personal dimension to your application, and show application readers how you will contribute to the school’s community.

5- Other issues to consider 

Military service, volunteer experience, and any awards or recognition you have received are worthy additions to your profile. But you may need to include parts of your past that you’re not so proud of, that are negatives. Perhaps you’ve been placed on academic probation, had an honor code infraction, or received a DUI. How such issues are viewed can vary across different programs. Remember that all your experiences make up who you are, and even negatives can be positive indicators of how you cope with adversity, motivate yourself after a setback, and propel yourself forward. They can show your resilience as well as your ability to learn and grow from mistakes. A frank appraisal of your ups and downs, including taking responsibility for missteps, can actually make you a more attractive candidate.

An honest self-assessment is a key component of a successful application. Our experienced professional MBA admissions consultants will work with you one-on-one to assess and hone your personal profile so that you apply not only to the programs you really want but also to the programs likely to want you. Then we guide you in presenting your qualifications and story compellingly. Let us help you get on the road to being ACCEPTED!

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