What Makes a Good MBA Candidate?

Business school admissions professionals must determine whether you have the ability to succeed both academically and professionally.There's a lot you can do to show them what a good candidate you are, but that is always easiest if you are clear in your knowledge of your own abilities and goals and how they fit in with the schools to which you apply.
Here's some advice for making sure you present yourself well as an MBA candidate:

  • Be honest. Admissions professionals are good at identifying when someone is just saying what they think the admissions committee wants to hear. Tell the truth about what you are looking to get out of the MBA degree, what your goals and aspirations are, what you are passionate about, and why you are interested in a given school and program.
  • Be realistic. It's one thing to say you want to be a great chef, but that may not be immediately attainable if you have never cooked anything in your life. Make sure that your career goals are based on an accurate assessment of your experience and skills Also, make sure that your credentials match the typical admissions requirements of the schools to which you apply; with all the competition for seats in business school, you'll want to apply where you have a solid chance of being admitted.
  • Tell not only what you hope to gain but also what you want to contribute. Classmates are an important part of the MBA education. In fact, MBA grads say that the quality of their fellow students is an important part of their MBA experience. Show that you'll be a valuable member of the learning community.
  • Know about the school and program to which you are applying. In addition to talking in detail about yourself, you'll want to be able to show that you are familiar with the given school and why you are a good fit.

Pay attention to school culture and corporate culture

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Part of being a good fit for a school has to do with the culture of the school—whether you will feel comfortable and be able to thrive in the learning community. A visit to campus will tell you more than anything about that aspect of fit; talking with former and current students can help, too. Cultural considerations shouldn't only factor into your school decisions; they should also affect the decisions you make about where to work. Some industries have unique cultures—companies in the tech sector, for instance, typically have a different culture from consulting firms and investment banks

  • There are cultural differences from company to company within one industry, as well. Know what kinds of cultures will be right for you.   

Go back to school at the right time

You will want to develop the right pre-MBA experience to aid your intended career switch or to help you further your current career with an MBA. Your post-MBA employment options will depend largely on your pre-MBA exposure and experience, so make sure that you have enough pre-MBA experience to help you take advantage of all the benefits the degree offers. Do research to find out what MBA employers expect and what MBA admissions committees factor into their considerations about candidates' employment outlook. If you don't feel you have enough work experience right now to benefit fully from an MBA.