Application tips for busy executives
Loubna Bouamane, PhD is the founder/CEO of The Admission Concierge and an expert in the MBA/MSc admissions field. She has over 15 years experience in higher education. Her professional path has led her to work in several business schools including Babson College and Harvard Business School and 5 years as the director of admissions at the University of Miami. She has been a featured speaker both domestically and internationally on various MBA fairs and led webinars with GMAC.
What are the secrets to an impressive Executive MBA application package? Even if you’re pressed for time, you can still put together a solid application. However, you need to be ready and to commit at least a few hours a week, which can be challenging when you have to juggle a full-time job and/or a family on the side! Here are a few tips from an experienced admissions expert to help you prioritise.
What should be the first steps for professionals applying for an Executive MBA?
Start with items that are not under your control. The first step is to connect with your recommenders. Their timeline is your timeline; make sure you agree on what needs to be done and when; provide them with any supporting documents they might need (deadlines, CV, letter prompt, etc.). Follow up the contact periodically to keep the matter foremost in mind.
Another step you need to take early is to request transcripts (and credential evaluations if you are an international applicant; during the rush season, these can take up to four weeks).
What is the best GMAT/GRE strategy?
According to Kaplan, most candidates who score 700+ studied at least 20 hours. I always advise my clients to test first to get a baseline score before deciding on an appropriate preparation strategy.
If you are working full-time, try to allocate one or two hours every night or morning (whatever works best!) instead of cramming eight hours in a row during weekends, because this will lead to burnout.
What is the one piece of advice you always give prospective applicants?
The most crucial aspect of your application is your ability to clearly articulate your post-MBA career goals and connect the dots with everything you have done so far.
You will also need to dig into your past to identify stories and formative experiences that will highlight your leadership and analytical skills as well as your sense of citizenship. This process requires a lot of introspection; it may be helpful for you to keep a notebook handy to jot down any ideas that come up during that boring two-hour Zoom meeting.
Should applicants start with the GMAT/GRE or the application essay(s)?
Standardised test preparation can be daunting and will highly stimulate the problem-solving part of your brain. Essay writing, on the other hand, will require a lot of introspection, time and, to a certain extent, some creativity. Because these two tasks are so widely different, it’s best to tackle one after the other. I recommend that applicants take the GMAT/GRE before writing the essay.
What should applicants do when they feel overwhelmed with the application process?
Whether you undertake this process with the help of a consultant or alone, try to identify someone who can hold you accountable to help you stay on track. The application process can be lonely and painful at times, so don’t hesitate to reach out to other applicants via forums or social media!
Need assistance with your application? The Admission Concierge is a one-to-one approach consulting service, founded by a former director of admissions with extensive experience in guiding applicants through the application process, including interview preparation and post-admission assistance.