News, advice and resources for business school applicants

Admissions Tips

Browse our weekly admissions tips, or choose the category most relevant to you: researching, planning, applying, deciding.


Admissions Tip: Using MBA Program Rankings to Your Advantage

Admissions Tip: Using MBA Program Rankings to Your Advantage

There are a number of authoritative sources that knowledgeably rank the “top” MBA programs each year.  Because the methodologies of these rankings can differ considerably, however, a given school may well be ranked quite differently across these various lists, making it difficult to decipher which are the “best” schools. For that reason, we’d like to talk today about how b-school applicants can use MBA program rankings to discover which schools truly are the best — for them.  Although the general merits of each school are important, we also believe that it is essential for MBA applicants to develop ranked preferences for schools based on their individual needs and interests.

Here are our tips for using official MBA school rankings:

1. Use rankings to create a consensus. Ranked lists of top schools are seldom identical, which makes it difficult to identify which schools are in the “top five” or “top ten.” Instead, it’s best to compile these different sources of rankings to form a consensus regarding the top schools. For example, if your target program is consistently listed in the top 15, regardless of its individual ranking among different sources, you should feel confident that it is regarded as a top school by industry professionals and future employers.  You may not be able to pinpoint the ultimate “number one” school, but you will be able to distinguish between the different tiers of schools. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: School-Hosted Blogs

Admissions Tip: School-Hosted Blogs

As the summer progresses and applicants begin researching their target schools in more depth, we would like to highlight a valuable research tool: school-hosted blogs.  The last few years have seen a significant increase in the number of MBA student blogs hosted by schools’ admissions offices, as well as in admissions offices’ use of blogs to keep applicants informed of deadlines, admissions policies and events.   Continue reading…

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A Look Inside the Clear Admit School Snapshots

Last week, we announced the release of our 2015-2016 School Snapshots. We’ve been thrilled by the warm reception they’ve received from the MBA applicant community: in the past week, there have been nearly 1,000 Snapshot titles downloaded!

Wharton School Snapshot Page 2For our readers who haven’t yet downloaded their Snapshots, we wanted to offer a closer look at what you’ll find inside each our 27 titles. In order to illustrate the sort of information you’ll find in these four-page program overviews, we’ve not-so-randomly chosen the Wharton School Snapshot (we’re based in Philadelphia, after all). Let’s look inside! Click on the thumbnail to the right to see a full-sized page.

The Snapshots provide an overview of the academic curriculum and learning environment at each school, including the number of study abroad opportunities, interdisciplinary offerings, and dual degree options. You’ll also learn about the number of active student clubs, as well as particularly popular annual events that students look forward to at each program. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Addressing a Gap in Employment

Mind the GapGiven the emphasis that schools place on a candidate’s work experience, it is important for applicants to be proactive in addressing gaps in employment.  When applying to business school, many candidates worry about how the adcom might perceive a gap in employment.  We would like to take some time to discuss strategies for addressing this issue.

It’s not unheard of for an MBA candidate to have a gap in employment, and this will not necessarily make a negative impact on someone’s candidacy.  Gaps might be due to anything from lay-offs to periods of travel.  As a general rule, applicants should use an optional essay to explain gaps in employment that are three months or longer, unless instructed to do so in their data forms.  Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Visiting the Campus

Admissions Tip: Visiting the Campus

As many applicants are finding out at this time of year, conducting thorough research on MBA programs is an essential step in formulating a list of target schools and crafting convincing essays.  Surfing the web and speaking with friends and mentors are great starting points in identifying programs of interest.  However, to really get a feel for a school and determine whether it’s a good fit for one’s goals and personality, applicants need to dig deeper and gain some firsthand experience with the program and the people.   Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: How to Write a Winning MBA Résumé

Admissions Tip: How to Write a Winning MBA Résumé

Your résumé is not only an important component of your MBA application, it’s also a great place to start when crafting your overall positioning strategy.  This document forces one to distill a candidacy into a concise summary, focusing on key aspects and themes.  With that in mind, here are a few simple tips to get you started:

1) First things first.  Because you’re applying to graduate school, it makes sense to lead this document with a section detailing your academic history.  This is also the format that many business schools’ career offices instruct students to use when applying for internships or full-time jobs post-graduation. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Crafting Strong Essays – The Rewards of Reflection

Admissions Tip: Crafting Strong Essays – The Rewards of Reflection

With several of the leading schools having already released their essay questions for this admissions season, we’re sure that quite a number of early birds are eager to get a jump on the process in order to complete as many applications as possible by Round 1.  As applicants find themselves brainstorming for essay topics, we wanted to offer a few tips on presenting yourself and your experiences as advantageously as possible. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Selecting Your Recommenders

Admissions Tip: Selecting Your Recommenders

Since many of our readers are just beginning the business school application process, we wanted to offer some basic tips on a critical variable in the MBA admissions equation: recommender selection.

When choosing your recommenders, remember that it can be seen as a test of judgment – selecting a recommender whose letter is ineffective or who appears dubious about your qualifications may raise doubts about your ability to judge your interactions with others or to select the right person for a job.  In order for your letters to be as effective as possible, you should look for several qualities in a recommender.   Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Feedback Session Etiquette

Admissions Tip: Feedback Session Etiquette

In mid-March, we discussed the importance of signing up for a feedback session when one is planning to reapply to a program that provides this opportunity.  Today we’d like to follow up on that post by offering a few thoughts on feedback session etiquette.

While on one hand a feedback session marks the close of this year’s process, it’s crucial that you realize that the impression you make on the adcom member conducting the session may be added to your file and come to bear on your candidacy next year.  Taking heed of the following advice could help to make your feedback session as productive as possible – both in terms of gaining information about your weaknesses that you can address now and fostering a positive relationship with the school that will pay off in the future. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Going Beyond School Websites

Admissions Tip: Going Beyond School Websites

In keeping with the recent Admissions Tips we have posted for the new crop of applicants to the Class of 2018, today we want to offer some tips on engaging the community of one’s target programs.  Communicating with b-school insiders can be beneficial for a number of reasons: In addition to learning about a given school and your potential fit, you’ll also generate material for your essays, demonstrate your interest in the program, and perhaps even make an ally or two.  In your efforts to go beyond the schools’ websites and promotional materials, we recommend reaching out to individuals in a few key groups: Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Approaching the Career Goals Essay

Admissions Tip: Approaching the Career Goals Essay

Though essay questions tend to vary year to year, the two things that nearly every prospective student can count on being asked are “What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals?” and “How will Business School X help you achieve these goals?”

These are the fundamental questions of the entire application process; identifying clear answers will help in everything from creating a list of target schools to communicating effectively with recommenders and interviewers down the line.  As such, it’s a great idea to begin drafting answers to the Career Goals essay early and often!  To help you get started, here are some general pointers: Continue reading…

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