ANSWER THE QUESTION: "WHY OUR MBA?"
You have no problem answering the questions “Why MBA?” and “Why Now?” But, you know the admissions committees will ask the third question, “Why our MBA?” and the programs sound all too similar as you comb through websites, chats and rankings. How do you distinguish the schools and whittle down the list of schools to which you will apply and ultimately attend? Moreover, how do you answer the committee’s question on an application and in your interview, making sure that the answer is unique and captures the appropriate school features? The answer to these questions lies in a great resource: students and alumni.
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
When I begin working with my clients, I give them homework. The first task is often to speak with 2-3 alumni and students from each school they are considering for application. We discuss appropriate questions to ask admissions committee members, but also alumni and students. Alumni and students are not only brutally honest sources of information regarding the schools, their programs and the culture in which you will spend a lot of time and hard earned income, but they also serve as a future network for you when you begin your post-MBA job search and all subsequent job searches, future hires, business partners, potential investments (and investors) and remain your best advisors as you nurture and grow your network.
2. GET MORE INFO
So even if you are painfully shy, sign up on the schools’ websites for more information. When you sign up on the website as a prospective student, you will be invited to attend events in your area and online webinars and chats that are provided by the schools, as well as by organizations like The MBA Tour. These offline and online events often have student and/or alumni participation. As an admissions director, part of my job was to recruit you to apply to my program. I had to market my school. A student or alumnus, even at a school-sponsored event, will give you the real scoop.
3. EMAIL, EMAIL, EMAIL!
For less scripted interactions, you can also contact the school’s admissions office or alumni office to get the names and emails of alumni in your area. Check your own alumni/office database for alumni or former colleagues who are now attending or have graduated from MBA programs that you are considering. Grab contacts you know on LinkedIn or other professional social networking sites. Build relationships now, and you will likely have an alumni advocate in your corner when you apply to the school.
By Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, Accepted.com admissions consultant and former Admissions Dean/Director at 3 top business schools.
Accepted.com, the premier admissions consultancy and essay editing company, has helped MBA & EMBA applicants around the world gain admissions to top business schools since 1994.