Tips on applying for entry to an MBA program

Once you have decided which MBA program is for you - this is your most important step. Take your time over it - get it right. You might be applying to more than one program - but don't be tempted to rush it.

Procedures for applying to enter an MBA program vary - and so does the terminology. However these are the common aspects. You may not require all of them in all situations.

These are our tips:

The Application Form

Your form should be clear, complete and neat. When read quickly by someone who does not know you it should give a clear picture of you.

  • Spend sufficient time - do the job properly. This is the first hurdle - most people fall here.
  • Photocopy the blank form several times and fill out several drafts before you fill out the copy to submit.
  • Get someone to look at your drafts - preferably someone who doesn't know you too well and who can therefore see the document as an Admissions person in the school might see it.
  • If you are applying to a school in another country - remember that you might not get an interview - so the application documents are particularly important.
  • If the application form refers to interviews - and you are in another country - offer to be interviewed by telephone and/or by a local allumnus of the school.

The Resume, or CV

If a separate personal resume or CV is required, it should:

  • Be concise and neat (not handwritten)
  • Present you - as a person - clearly, to someone who does not know you
  • Be specific - saying what you have done, learnt and accomplished
  • Show evidence of your managerial and leadership skills
  • Show evidence that you are a good 'group worker' - most programs will need you to work in this way
  • Highlight specific skills and abilities that will differentiate you from others - and make you stand out from the crowd
  • Include some things which might become topics in an interview
  • Remember - spend time on your resume, and make it show - the School will want to see that you are taking them seriously

The Essay

If it is about you - it should do all the things which are listed above for the Resume - but it is also a test of your writing ability, so it should also:

  • Be well structured and logical (check spelling and syntax or get someone to read it before you use it)
  • Present your strengths - but recognize your weaknesses, and say how doing the program is intended to address them
  • Indicate what you would bring to the program - i.e. how you would be an asset to it, and subsequently to the school as an allumnus
  • Express your views and opinions
  • Address all the specific topics requested or suggested by the school - make a check-list and make sure you cover all items, preferably in the order the school presented them in any notes for guidance
  • Follow the school's requirements as regards line spacing, margins etc - and especially any word limit
  • Don't use 'mass produced' or 'off the peg' essays
  • Make each essay a unique story about yourself in order to give the admissions officers an insight into your personality

Letters of Recommendation/References

Take care to pick the right people to comment about you.

  • Choose people who know you and who like you
  • Choose people in business or education, i.e. with job titles which will be recognized by the school
  • Ask them before and thank them afterwards (preferably when you have the result of the application)
  • Brief them - but dont tell them what to write - speak to or meet with them, give them a copy of your completed application form , CV etc
  • Tell them their input is important and not just a formality
  • Choose people who have, and will give, the time to do a good job - i.e. not just tick the boxes and not write any comments