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Step by Step Process to Apply to Top MBA Programs

Updated: Mar 16

The process to successfully apply to top management courses is time-consuming and stressful. There are several things that you need to do and it is important to appropriately plan and manage the process.

In this article, we provide you a detailed 8-step process for how you can go start preparing for your dream programs. It’s the same process that we follow with our clients for preparing them for the world’s best MBA programs.

Self awareness is a big topic for the top MBA programs. The top schools are not looking for people who are only focused on getting an MBA degree, rather they are looking for individuals who are acutely aware of themselves, their surroundings, their ambitions and what they have achieved.

So, becoming self-aware, is an irreplaceable part of the MBA process. We call it the Self-Discovery part of the process - where you get in touch with your story, experiences and ambitions.

Initial Profile Assessment

The first step to becoming self-aware is to assess your profile as accurately and honestly as possible. There are several aspects that you need to check - such as your academic potential, your story and career progress, leadership experiences, your goals post-MBA and long-term, and your personal attributes.

Identifying Your Strengths

Simply having a top company on your resume, or a degree from a top undergraduate school is not going to get you into the best MBA programs. Your application must indicate your strengths. It must highlight your key differentiators that set you apart from other candidates.

Aligning Your Career Story

Most top MBA programs require impactful work experience. You need to share your career story, with not a single loose end. Your story should be coherent and free-flowing, with all the major milestones, reasons for your career decisions, the challenges you faced and accomplishments you had, your growth areas and leadership experiences.

Short & Long-Term Goals

Once you have your story sorted, you need to identify the purpose of your life/career before you apply to the top programs. There are multiple facets of career-planning, from realising what you want to do post-MBA to a much longer outlook of how you wish to impact the world and make it a better place. All this, and a detailed action plan of how you aim to achieve your goals can help you make your mark on the admissions committees.

This marks the end of the Self-Discovery part of the process. Now that you have a fair idea of where you come from and where you want to go, it’s time to choose your supporters in that journey, that is the B-Schools, and the possible referees for you to those B-Schools!


Choosing Your B-Schools

All top B-Schools have their own strengths, values and style of teaching. Depending on which B-Schools match with your expectations, values and strengths, you need to draft a first preliminary list of schools and then narrow it down to finalize your highest priority schools.

Choosing your References

Choosing a referee is probably one of the most under-looked, and confusing parts of the B-School application! An application form is complete only when it has the required information from references. You must identify key referees who have worked with you, connect with them, confirm their willingness, provide them a synopsis of shared experiences/values which they need to highlight and then follow-up with them to ensure everything is well taken care of. Though it sounds simple, it’s often not so!

Once you have your story sorted, you need to identify the purpose of your life/career before you apply to the top programs.

Now that you have your supporters ready, it’s time to get down to the most objective parts of the application! Creating your resume and drafting your essays!


Create your Resume

A B-School resume is quite different from a job resume. You need to structure the resume as per the b-school values. Also, remember to quantify your most significant achievements. Your resume must highlight a clear career story along with evidence of your abilities. The resume must bring to the fore your management potential, leadership experience, experiences showing fit of values with the school, and your key differentiators.

Essay/SOP Writing and Reviews

The final and the most intimidating stage of the application process. As you attempt to answer the essays, take into account all the research that you have done about the b-schools and about yourself. Match the values that the schools want and you possess, and highlight such experiences in your essays - and you should be good to go!

Review your essays like your life depended on it, quite literally!

So, that does it. That’s the entire process of applying to a top MBA program.

If it looks intimidating to you, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You only do an MBA once in your lifetime, so make sure that you are in your best position to apply!


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