Which skills are the B-Schools looking for?
Did you know that the acceptance rate of Tier-1 B-Schools ranges from 16% -23%?
Top B-Schools such as HEC Paris, LBS, Duke receive thousands of applications every year,but offer just a few hundred seats for the aspirants.
For Example, for the incoming class of 2016, HEC selected only 206 candidates from the 1,908 applications it received. That's just 16.45%.
In the face of such tough competition, schools use multi-layered selection procedure to pick best of its students suited for the program.
An ideal candidate is someone who has a consistent record of -
-Academic excellence (Demonstrated through CGPA,GMAT scores),
-Leadership qualities( Demonstrated through academic/non-academic initiatives, projects ,etc.)
-Hands-on practical experience (Demonstrated through internships,work experience)
-Skill Diversity (Demonstrated through extra-curricular activities)
-Result-oriented Aptitude (Demonstrated through 'Rewards & Recognition)
As every applicant has something unique to add to table, business schools are always on the lookout for specific qualities as they review the thousands of applications.
Convincing the adcom that you possess them will put you leagues ahead of everyone else within your applicant pool.
So what are these skills which can make that key difference?
Well they span across.......
(Demonstrated through CGPA, GMAT scores)
(Demonstrated through academic/non-academic initiatives, projects, etc.)
Hands-on practical experience
(Demonstrated through internships, work experience)
(Demonstrated through extra-curricular activities)
(Demonstrated through 'Rewards & Recognition)
Most schools have students from a wide range of backgrounds, hence ad coms look for those who enjoy working in dynamic groups. Often candidates with a background such as humanities, design, or law, seem more attractive to the admissions committee than the typical business or engineering background.
But there are certain skills which can help you stand against the odds
Your GMAT Score is not just a number, it can have a tremendous impact on your academic future.
To get your foot in the door, you need to strive for a GMAT or GRE score that is more than the average at your target schools.
You may be wondering, why is the GMAT/GRE score so important to the ad com?
Well, for starters it evaluates your logical reasoning and critical thinking aptitude. Your GMAT score is a tangible output of your proficiency in the above areas, which is hard to gauge through your CGPA and work-experience.
Secondly, the admissions panel believe that the CGPA is a subjective score since the difficulty level of undergraduate courses varies across different countries. GMAT, being a standardized test, provides a more objective basis for an applicant's evaluation.
Also, most top ranked business schools receive an overwhelming number of applicants with very high scores. Therefore, along with excellent CGPA, your GMAT becomes a deciding factor of your admit.
The grade point average is one factor that colleges may consider when they decide to accept or deny a student. Sometimes, the admissions staff have the ability to look beyond a minimum grade point average. But that’s rare.
It’s a long standing proof of your academic capabilities, but also one of the least points to worry about as there’s literally nothing you can do to change it!
For a more holistic look, ad coms will look at your interests and what have you done to acquire knowledge on those subject areas.
Did you take any certificate courses? Have you completed any MOOCs to broaden your knowledge base? The point being B-Schools prefer applicants who are well-rounded.
Students who go beyond their classroom seeking knowledge give an impression of being self-starters and motivators. They don’t rely on an external push to learn new things.
This could be another differentiating factor in your application process.
Projects are a great way to showcase your management skills and also give an insight on how well you work with teams. They also help you gain hands-on experience of textbook knowledge that you are eager to learn.
Also, an excellent medium to interact with diverse people and instrumental in refining your people skills. You can get a lot of project management opportunities through volunteering as well as university level research projects.
Did you know that 59% of university admissions panel believe that the weightage on extra-curricular activities has increased in the last decade?
Ad coms are always looking for candidates who go beyond their school curriculam or job description, are involved in team-leading and managerial tasks, who proactively seek out opportunities for growth within the organization, and who can see the bigger picture.
Your past achievements are the best indicators of your potential. Its is a proof that you excel at certain things, and are well above your peers.
Victories in any field, be it sports, arts or MUNs, they all highlight various qualities and skills that you posses.
Just participating in events, may not add much value to your profile.
Are you a part of any association?
AIESEC, Toastmasters, MUN are some of the associations which are popular across the globe..
Being a part of such associations give you various opportunities to meet and interact with new people. These experience will display your ability to take initiative and hone your team-playing skills.
Your contribution while being a part of such organizations will surely help you learn skills related to management, at the same time will give you an opportunity to create impact.
Workshops and Conferences
Attending workshops and conferences on the management topics of your interest. They not only give you an opportunity to gain knowledge and build your networks, but also they give you an enhanced perspective that will definitely show through in your essays and interviews with the Adcom.
Many students stop pursuing sports in order to keep their academic tracks high. While this may help to show how academically strong they are, but ad com is looking for more that just grades.
Students who have sports display the ability to work in a team to achieve a common goal. This ability would make a candidate highly desirable to a B-School.
Also, it is not necessary to play only the conventional sports. Even adventure activities such as river rafting, rock climbing, trekking etc showcase that you are willing step out of your comfort zone and take risks.
Playing a musical instrument, illustrating, pottery, dancing will not just add to the versatility of your profile, but also as an indicator of qualities of being disciplined and creative. A skill, especially self taught, reflects that fact that you are self motivated and dedicated.
Also, make sure that you have a measurable achievement in each one of them.
Giving you a wider perspective, the experience of social volunteering can improve your ability to take initiative and hone your interpersonal skills. This will reflect to the Ad com your commitment to social responsibility, your ability to take initiative, and your organizational and leadership skills.
You could take the initiative to conduct seminars and talks for school kids on awareness about issues like drug abuse, sexual abuse, adolescent health, staying safe online, etc. Imagine the multitude of skills you can learn through such an experience!
You will learn how to communicate across age-groups, you will hone your speaking skills, and you will learn valuable facts about these issues that you could dispense to the benefit of everyone around you.
The only source of knowledge is experience.
To be able to share learning from those experiences with your peers is an important factor for a B-School.
Hence, introspecting experiences gained via multi culture exposure, work or even via volunteering can boast the value of your application can really boast the value of your application.
Schools look to build culturally sensitive leaders who can handle international markets.
Hence they look for students who will fit into the global school culture, and later on an organizational level.
There are various ways to demonstrate your multi-cultural understanding. It could be the time you spent studying or working abroad for a few weeks, Or if you grew up in a foreign country. Even working at an MNC where your clients belong to different nationalities or if you work with cross-cultural teams.
You build a broader perspective. Also, spending time outside your home country will help you build on your transferable skills and traits such as maturity, communication skills, adaptability, the ability to empathize and so on. These will surely add more weightage to your application.
But there is much more to an individual than their test scores, and a good business school recognise that. They love students who think out of the box and act upon them. These qualities will reflect in your track record, essay and interview.
Having your article being published in a newspaper or magazines, will showcase that you voice your opinion, or share your knowledge.
Even being an active blogger on a management related topic will set you apart from your peers.
Or maybe you started your own business and went on to create a decent amount of revenue, this can showcase a self-starting nature.
While assessing an applicant's background, factors like leadership and teamwork play a major role. Adcoms look for evidence if you have managed people and resources effectively, are adept at conflict-resolution and can work well under pressure. It's more about what you have accomplished, how you have led, who you have collaborated with and how you have grown.
If you have a good brand on your CV, or have had a good work profile (with lots of responsibility) these can make great essay points.
Even if you have less of formal leadership experience, you can talk about how persuading senior colleagues to adopt an idea, etc.
MBA students are coming from a wider range of industries. But, if you’re in an unconventional career, it adds more differentiating points to your profile.
Schools look for inquisitive individuals who want to make an impact. So they don’t just look for how smart you are, but also how groomed your soft skills are.
Finding original thinkers with a passion and a flair for innovation is important for them.
Focus is one of the key skills that ad coms are interested in as it is the base of all your perception, thinking, and ability to succeed. It can be demonstrated through a continued record of good academic performances and involvement in various projects and extra curricular activities.
Schools want you to be individually capable, but they don't expect you to do everything on your own. They are interested in seeing whether you are able to work with others to reach a common goal.
Adding examples of where you were able to influence others without having direct authority over them and how you solicited and balanced the needs and competing agendas of others.
Every B school wants to develop leaders who will contribute positively to society.
It's almost impossible to talk about business school applications without mentioning leadership, but it's important to understand that each program views this value in a slightly unique way. Columbia values the ability to not only be a strong team player, but also to lead teams.
Spotting new opportunities, business threats, coming up with creative solutions, require certain skills to come up with innovative ideas to cater to various stages of businesses. Hence there are certain qualities, B schools expect you to possess even before getting admitted.
Strategic Decision Making
As the economy is growing exponentially and most of the managers work in a sub-optimal world. With a little information or inadequate time and its tough to make decisions. Hence one needs to be strategic about the decisions they make.
Having a plan
Solid planning and effective execution are two primary skills expected out of a business leader. A manager is expected to have concrete action steps for even the most complex business operations.
B-Schools are interested to know how well can you ideate with the available resources to achieve the expected outcomes.
But there is much more to an individual than their test scores, and a good business schools recognise that. They love creative problem-solvers who think out of the box, and these qualities will reflect in your track record, essay and interview.
30% of your entire admission weightage is given to your application
That is a combination of your Essays, Resume and LORs.
Hence the value of a good application goes unsaid.
Your essays should be genuine, honest and of your own voice. Many times, candidates who had below average grades and GMAT scores are moved to the interview round,cause their essays were so compelling that the ad com would want to meet the applicant in person.
How do you think? What motivates you? why you did, what you did? answers to such questions in the essays would allow them to see if you are a good fit with the school and its values or not.
They are one of the most compelling components of the application, and also the most unsettling for applicants since it's the one aspect you cannot entirely control.
An LOR offers insight into your personality or school experiences. There expose something about yourself you may not have thought to include or explain away any faults in your application.
These can make or break your dream school's decision to your admit.
Schools check whether you are as good as you seem in your paper, and test that in the interview.
They usually look for authenticity, communication skills, creative thinking, clarity of goals, leadership, confidence and so on in their prospective candidate.
Your CV is the picture of your professional life. It’s a one page sheet which is a hard proof of what you have some in your professional career and what difference has it made.
It's not all about the scale of your achievements, but about the impact that you have created