A step-by-step guide to earning an acceptance letter from the world’s top business schools
How to Apply for an MBA teaches readers how to tackle the most challenging aspects of applying, including self-assessment, school selection, resume and essay writing, reference letters, and interviewing.
The book’s 200+ pages are filled with secrets for optimizing every element of your MBA application.
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Prepare for the Real Entrance Exam
The ‘aha’ moment that led to this book was that the majority of MBA candidates are investing countless hours preparing for the GMAT, but they are not prepared for the real entrance exam — the MBA application, which includes the essays, resume, recommendation letters, application form, and interviews.
Optimize Your Application
How to Apply for an MBA teaches readers how to tackle the most challenging aspects of applying to graduate business schools, including self-assessment, school selection, resume and essay writing, reference letters, and interviewing. The book’s pages are filled with secrets for optimizing every element of your MBA application.
10 Steps to an Acceptance Letter
Other books have helpful tips and well-meaning pointers about how to get into a good business school. But, until now, no one has provided a start-to-finish guide for generating a breakthrough application.
The MBA Prep Steps™ program contained in this book was developed by a team of experienced MBA admissions consultants from Harvard Business School. Our powerful, easy-to-follow approach for building an outstanding application in ten steps combines all of the activities of applying for an MBA with the insights admissions experts use to help their clients create applications that lead to acceptance letters.
Follow the MBA Prep Steps™ project work plan contained in the book to keep pace with all of your application activities. If you follow this plan and complete the exercises provided in the book, you won’t just have learned how to create an outstanding application, you will have created one!
Why you need to read How to Apply for an MBA
- Generate a winning application in 10 powerful steps!
- Avoid the pitfalls and missteps that can sink your application.
- Learn the principles, practices, and exercises admissions consulting pros use to help their clients earn acceptance letters from the top-ranked business schools.
- See case studies and examples of successful candidates and take advantage of their application secrets.
- Authored by a Harvard MBA with more than six years of MBA admissions consulting experience and multiple clients at all the top-10 business schools.
How to Apply for an MBA was co-authored by Tyler Cormney and Christopher Aitken. Tyler is a Harvard MBA with more than six years of MBA admissions consulting experience and multiple clients with acceptances letters to the top-10 business schools. Chris has had multiple client acceptances into top 10 US and international business schools, many with full or partial scholarships. He also brings over 20 years of top-tier management consulting experience as a former partner at Andersen, KPMG, and BearingPoint.
10 Steps to a Winning Application!
The MBA Prep Steps™ project work plan contained in our book is designed to keep you on pace with your application activities. By the time you have finished the book and the exercises it contains, you will have an outstanding application ready to submit!
The sections of the book are organized into an easy to follow step-by-step program called the MBA Prep Steps™. This is the same methodology used by our elite admissions consultants to help our clients earn acceptance letters.
Click on each topic heading to see what’s inside:
Chapter 1: Prepare to Apply
For the early birds who have more than twelve weeks before it's time to apply, the first MBA Prep Step™ explores the things you should do to make your candidacy that much stronger. We have divided this Prep Step into two time periods – things to do if you have 12 months or more before you will apply and other activities that can be done when you have six or more months before applying. In addition to self-awareness exercises and some basic application housekeeping, you will learn to think like an admissions officer in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses in your candidacy. After showing you how to diagnose opportunities for improvement in your applicant profile, we prescribe a series of steps that you can take to strengthen your candidacy before you apply.
Understanding the MBA Application Process
An MBA application is, in part, a job application and admissions officers are some of the toughest recruiters on the planet. Learn how to create the kind of application that earns you the job.
The MBA Prep Steps Program
The MBA Prep Steps program is a powerful, step-by-step methodology for building an outstanding application developed by MBA Prep School’s faculty of leading admissions consultants. This 12-week program combines all of the action steps of applying for an MBA with the principles and practices our admissions consultants use to help our clients create applications that lead to acceptance letters.
How to Prepare for the MBA Prep Steps™ Program
Prior to beginning our intensive MBA Prep Steps™ program, there are actions you can take to ensure that your strongest application emerges.
How to Strengthen Your Candidacy Before You Apply
Before beginning your application, you have an opportunity to strengthen your candidacy. Learn how to analyze your candidacy from the perspective of an admissions officer and how to create an action plan for making your candidacy more competitive.
Chapter 2: Discover Your Strengths
An outstanding application will clearly communicate your key strengths to the admissions committee; therefore, you need to begin the application process with a crystal clear picture of what your strengths are. In the first week of the MBA Prep Steps™ program, you will complete a thorough accounting of your key differentiators, character strengths, career history, and leadership capabilities. The things you discover about yourself will serve as the building blocks for a powerful application.
Discover Your Points of Difference
Differentiating yourself is key to a successful MBA application. In this chapter, you will discover your Points of Difference – the things about you that set you apart from the thousands of others who are applying.
Discover Your Character Strengths
The combined elements of your character are what make you an individual distinct from others; they are the qualities that society and, it follows, business schools hold in high regard. We’ll introduce you to a profiling tool developed by psychologists that will offer you a number of valuable insights on which of your Character Strengths you might want to emphasize in your application.
Discover Your Career Story
Your career story in an executive summary of your professional achievements. Learn the elements of a complete and compelling career story.
Discover Your Leadership Capabilities
If you have your sights set on a top-tier business school, you must demonstrate your leadership potential. Learn how to build your Leadership Portfolio and identify the stories in your background that prove you are a leader.
Chapter 3: Define Your Career Goals
The clarity of the career vision you present in your applications can serve as an elegant proof of your future potential. In this MBA Prep Step™, you'll investigate the intersection between your strengths, passion, and sense of purpose in order to define your career goals. The career goals you develop using the exercises in this section of the work plan will set you apart from other candidates competing for a spot in a top school.
Discover Your Career Purpose
Your Career Purpose is what you hope to achieve in the world in a larger sense. Admissions committees are looking for candidates who know what matters to them and who have a sense of where they want to go in their careers. In this chapter, we show you how to develop a Statement of Career Purpose.
Identify Your Dream Job
Your Career Purpose describes what you want to achieve as a future leader. The Dream Job you identify in the exercises in this chapter will prepare you to describe the job, title, and industry that will best position you to achieve that Career Purpose.
Inventory Your Career Capabilities
With your Dream Job in mind, you want to identify the skills, knowledge, and capabilities required to be successful in achieving your long-term career goals. In this chapter, we will show you how to inventory the Career Capabilities you already possess and those that you will need to acquire.
Develop Your Career Action Plan
The final step in the career goals setting process is to outline a credible Career Action Plan that summarizes the steps that will take you from where you are today to your ultimate Dream job.
Chapter 4: Select Your Schools
In this MBA Prep Step™, you'll learn how to look beyond the magazine rankings, the school's marketing messages, and the opinions of others. We will guide you through a research program and a list of due diligence steps that you can take to select the schools that are the best fit for you.
Select a Program Type
A range of program options exists for earning an MBA. We will help you to select a program-format that best fits your needs.
Select Schools That Fit Your Career Goals
Identify the MBA programs that will best prepare you for the career you have set your sights on.
Identify the Best Academic Environment for You
Identify the schools that are the best match for what you need to learn and the way you learn best.
Identify the Best Culture for You
A school's culture shapes everything from the way a single classroom is run to what kinds of professors are hired and – more to the point – what kinds of students are accepted. Decide which schools have a culture where you will thrive.
Select Schools That Match Your Qualifications
Be realistic when it comes time to apply. Consider the acceptance rates of the schools on your short list, and compare your profile to accepted applicants so that you can target schools where your profile will be competitive.
Chapter 5: Identify Each School’s Fit Qualities
To prove you are a better fit than your competition, you need to know what qualities the school values most and use that knowledge to shape and to customize every element of your application – especially your essays. In this MBA Prep Step™, we will show you how to identify the school's Fit Qualities – which you can think of as the highest common denominators among students who are accepted.
Valued Qualities vs. Fit Qualities
Being accepted is all about the right “fit”. The general qualities that MBA programs value are generally well understood and intuitive. To prove you fit, you need to know what qualities each specific school values most, so that you can use that knowledge to shape and customize every element of your application – especially your essays.
Research the Fit Qualities
The admissions office won’t broadcast the school’s Fit Qualities on their website or in information sessions; so we will show you how to do your own detective work and identify the Fit Qualities for each of the schools you are applying to.
Define Each Fit Quality
Compiling a list of possible Fit Qualities is a big step forward, but we will guide you through some additional detective work to define each quality.
Rank the Importance of Each Fit Quality
Take a step back from your Fit Quality research and weigh the evidence to ensure that each quality on your list is important. In this chapter, we will provide the criteria to rank the school’s Fit Qualities, from highest importance to least importance, based on the quantity and quality of your evidence.
Chapter 6: Build Your Application Resume
Most schools will require you to submit a 1-2 page resume. Most books and articles about creating a resume are generally written from the standpoint of creating a resume for a job search. In the videos, you'll learn exactly what admissions officers are looking for in an MBA application resume and how to build a resume that will "wow" the admissions committee.
Gather Your Resume Building Blocks
Your work during the 'Discover Your Strengths' section of the book generated the inputs for your resume. In this chapter, you will learn how to choose the resume building blocks that provide the kind of evidence admission committees are looking for.
Create Your Resume
In this chapter, you will learn how to assemble your resume building blocks into a highly professional, strategically sound MBA application resume. We will take you through a resume, section by section, and provide best practice advice on content and style.
Chapter 7: Write Your Essays
The essays you write for your MBA applications are the best way to differentiate yourself from other candidates, and this MBA Prep Step™ will provide you with the guidance you need to create impressive essays. We identified the essay questions that appear every year across applications and created content to teach you how to tackle the classic MBA essay questions.
There are no shortcuts to creating great essays! To help you stay on track with your essay writing efforts, we have broken the writing process down into a weekly program that will take you from first draft to final draft for three separate sets of application essays. Armed with the insights provided in this MBA Prep Step™, you will embark on your writing process with greater confidence and a clearer idea of your writing objectives.
The Eight Most Frequently Asked MBA Essay Questions
Although each school asks a unique set of questions, there are eight question types that appear most frequently. We'll reveal these eight essay archetypes and offer tips on scoring top marks with your answers.
Nine Qualities You Should Feature in Your Essays
The primary objective of your MBA application is to provide evidence that you possess the qualities that admissions committees value most. Learn about the nine qualities that you should feature in your essays.
How to Choose Your Topics and Stories
When you are just starting work on your essays, it can be difficult to decide what to write about. In this chapter, we provide you with a step-by-step process for discovering your best topics and stories.
How to Outline Your Stories
Once you’ve narrowed your topics and stories to your best options, you should outline your essays before attempting a rough draft. We will show you a powerful outlining framework that will ready you to write an outstanding first draft.
Follow a Writing Calendar
We have broken the writing process into seven steps and mapped out a six-week schedule that you can follow to stay organized and on track with your essay writing efforts.
Chapter 8: Select & Support Your References
Selecting your references and supporting them along the way are critical aspects of a successful application. In this MBA Prep Step™, we provide you with the important "Do's and Don'ts" of reference selection. After you have selected your references, guiding them through the recommendation letter process we will recommend is the best way to ensure that great letters result. We will share a series of Reference Letter Best Practices so that you can maximize the quality of the reference letters that accompany your application.
What Are Admissions Officers Looking for in a Reference Letter?
In this chapter, you will learn what admissions officers are looking for in your recommendation letters so that you can ensure your letters exceed their expectations.
The Reference Letter Process
We provide an overview of a proven reference letter preparation process and the proper timing of each step in the process.
How to Select Your References
Much of the reference letter process is outside of your control; therefore, making excellent choices about who will write your letters is the most important step you can take to increase the likelihood that great reference letters will result.
How to Support Your References
Learn a step-by-step approach for collaborating with your references in order to increase the probability of outstanding reference letters.
Reference Letter FAQs
We answer the most frequently asked questions about reference letters and provide a series of reference letter best practices.
Chapter 9: Complete Your Application Forms
You know the old saying "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression?"
The application forms are that first impression ... and provide another important opportunity to strengthen your candidacy. We will provide you with tips on all the major sections of the forms and share a series of best practices so that your application forms will further your bid for admission.
Strengthen Your Candidacy With the Application Forms
Don’t wait until the last minute to fill in the application data form. If you do, you won’t be able to take advantage of the advice in this chapter on using the forms to improve your candidacy.
Application Form Best Practices
We offer you some application form best practices to ensure that your application forms support the key elements and messaging from the rest of your application.
Chapter 10: Prepare for Interviews
The admissions interview is the "final exam" in the application process. In this MBA Prep Step™, you will learn the basic including what you are going to be "tested on" and how to score top marks with your interview answers. We offer a series of preparation exercises that will prepare you prove you are qualified for an MBA and prove you are a better fit for the school than your competitors. You will also have access to Admissions Interview "Best Practices" that will make a noticeable difference in your performance on interview day.
Understanding the Admissions Interview
The admissions interview is the final exam in the application process. We share a series of question you need to answer at the outset of your interview preparation.
What Will They Ask?
An interviewer is trying to decide if you have the right qualifications for an MBA from his or her program and if you’ll be a good fit. Learn about the types of questions you will be asked and how you can score top marks with your answers.
Interview Best Practices
We offer a series of admissions interview best practices that can make a real difference in your performance on interview day.
Download a Preview or buy now for only $47 USD!
Your copy of the eBook will be available for download immediately following your purchase.