written by: John Garger•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 6/27/2011
MBA programs have exponentially grown in popularity in the last two decades making it harder and harder to get into a management school. Learn about the top 3 qualities MBA admissions committees look for when admitting MBA students into a program.
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Getting into any graduate school can be tough but MBA schools look for very specific qualities when it comes to admitting new students. An admissions committee is typically made up of professors, the Dean, and several other pertinent people who work directly for or with the management school you want to get into.
Typically, MBA admissions committees look to three major qualities when deciding who gets in and who doesn’t. Learn about how important GMAT scores, GPA, and work/life experiences are when trying to get into an MBA program.
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Although many admissions committee members discount the importance of the GMAT, the fact is that the GMAT is the only objective measure of student potential. The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a test designed to predict near future performance of a student in a graduate management program.
Although most schools do not publish an absolute cutoff for GMAT scores, most admissions committees want to see a GMAT score of at least 550. The better schools need at least a 600 and some prestigious schools want to see a near perfect score on the math section of the GMAT. Make sure you have some idea of what the official or unofficial cutoffs are for the MBA school you like so you know what to shoot for.
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More subjective than the GMAT is your GPA. Your GPA is a summative representation of your past scholastic achievement. Although an important indicator of future performance, GPAs are subjective in nature making it hard to compare one student to another.
You may be wondering how a GPA score can be subjective. It is best explained by this example: An A in one school may be a B in another. Also, most people finish their undergraduate degrees when they are young. It is hard to judge a person of 40 by what he/she did when he/she was 18 to 22 years old. Still, the GPA is a decent indicator of future scholastic achievement because it at least shows what the student was capable of in the past.
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The most subjective quality MBA admissions committees look for in a potential student is his/her work and life experiences. A person of 40 who has been working as a low-level manager for 20 years doesn’t appear to have much ambition. That same individual at a middle management position is likely someone who has more depth and breadth when it comes to management experiences.
Successful entrepreneurs are especially welcomed in MBA programs because they have had a unique “succeed or die" perspective to business and management. They are typically better able to adapt, survive, and make things happen for themselves.
One down side to using subjective measures to admit MBA student is that much of what a candidate reveals to the committee is positive only and unverifiable. The committee must take it on faith that the applicant has been truthful in revealing his/her experiences. The key is to make sure your experiences don’t come across as too fantastic or else the admissions committee may suspect that you have gilded the lily a bit too much.
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Ranging from the objective to the wildly subjective, MBA admissions committees look at many qualities when selecting students to admit to the program. Your best bet is to appear strong on three major indicators of future scholastic success: GMAT scores, GPA, and work/life experiences. If you lack performance in one or two of these areas, try to work on and emphasize your strengths when applying. Plus, don’t be afraid to take a risk and shoot for the moon. You never know when you may have just the experience, skills, and qualities an MBA program is looking for.