What Business Schools Look for in Applicants
Sponsored by EDHEC Business School
Business schools across the globe receive thousands of applications each year, so one of the surest ways to land a place at a top business school is to know how to make your application stand out.
Applying to business school is a rigorous, time-consuming process, so preparation and research can go a long way towards ensuring you show off your best qualities to the admissions staff who handle your application. So, what exactly is it that business schools are looking for? We spoke to those in the know at EDHEC Business School to find out – read on and get ready to impress.
Strong academic abilities
First things first, a strong grade point average and a top-class undergraduate degree are the most significant aspects of your application. Your performance on the GMAT will also be scrutinized so preparation is key.
In fact, the Master in Management program at EDHEC Business School lets prospective students practice for the GMAT by taking a mini, micro and full GMAT test online. Scoring highly on the GMAT can help make up for poorer academic performance elsewhere, so take every opportunity available to do well on the GMAT.
Of course, don’t forget to highlight your non-academic achievements as well – schools such as EDHEC Business School like to know about your wider accomplishments and it can help them decide if you’ll fit the school’s ethos.
A wealth of work experience (almost)
Don’t panic! You’re not expected to have held the position of a high-level executive or anything like that. However, business schools do want to see evidence of high-quality work that you’ve carried out over the last few years. While some postgraduate business programs are opening themselves up to people with little in-work experience, most programs still expect you to have at least three to five years’ professional experience working in a business setting.
Your long-term professional prospects
Speaking of work experience, it’s important to emphasize what your long-term career goals are. If you’re hoping your newly-gained knowledge and skills will assist you with a career change or with starting your own business, then communicate that information.
It’s important to give details too, as many students will have similar ambitions. You’ll need to elaborate your personal goals and targets. As tempting as it is to say you’d like to one day be the CEO of your own company (which may be the truth!) it may be better to set realistic targets and goals which allow for greater individuality.
Soft skills as well as technical skills
The capabilities of a business school candidate have extended beyond traditional, technical business skills. Schools now want to see that students can demonstrate impressive soft skills, particularly leadership skills, as these are valued highly by today’s employers.
Find ways to emphasize teamwork, communication and other soft skills in your application, and it will help you come across as a well-rounded, capable student who is already well-suited to working and leading in business.
Honesty and motivation
As tempting as it is to only highlight your achievements, business schools appreciate honesty. Demonstrating ways in which you’ve managed to overcome setbacks and obstacles in your academic life, personal life and professional career can demonstrate resilience and your ability to learn from mistakes.
They also like to see commitment and motivation. One way to showcase your enthusiasm is to visit the school itself before you apply. Many business schools either run their own events or are part of third-party fairs and tours around the world such as those organized by QS, allowing prospective students the opportunity to meet the professors, current students and other faculty members. The Master’s in Management program at EDHEC Business School does just this.
This article was originally published in April 2019 . It was last updated in January 2020