Profile Assessment: Strengths and Weaknesses. Our news.  

Profile Assessment: Strengths and Weaknesses

 The importance of applicant’s profile

Everything that is required to submit together with your application form is aimed to learn you better, to understand who you are, how you cope with difficulties, what your advantages and weaknesses are, for sure. Many people applying to Graduate Schools have some weaknesses, there are not so many so-called the ‘ideal candidates’. The existence of some areas for improvement does not mean that you are not suitable for the program, you just need to address them correctly. Many elements identify you, and all together they create the image that Admissions Office will evaluate later.

What are the things that Admissions Committee is looking for in candidates’ profiles?

Usually, the first things they will consider are: your GMAT/ GRE score, international experience, leadership and managerial skills, the way you address your post-graduate plans and your academic and professional background. Besides, schools are also looking for those who possess creativity, interesting ideas, potential, teamwork, and many other qualities that can mark you out of other applicants’ pool.

Let’s start from GMAT (we will talk specifically about GMAT since it is preferable among students applying to Business schools - around 80%) that usually catches an eye at first. Each program on its website usually has a profile of an average admitted applicant where you can learn if you meet the class standards or not. Let’s compare GMAT results of an average student from top-10 business schools*

#

School name

Average GMAT score

GMAT range

1

Harvard University

730

580–790

2

University of Chicago (Booth)

730

620–790

3

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

730

570–780  (80% between 700–770)

4

Stanford University

737

610–790

5

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)

722

690–760

6

Northwestern University (Kellogg)

732

600–780

7

University of California Berkeley (Haas)

725

640–780

8

University of Michigan  Ann Arbor (Ross)

716

670–760

9

Columbia University

724

530–790

10

Dartmouth College (Tuck)

722

620–780

*According to US News report

From the table, we can see that the average GMAT has to be 720-730. In case you have more than 30 points less, it would be better for you to retake it or adjust the schools you are planning to apply to unless you have an their average accepted score. Still, your unique profile may catch the Adcom’s eye, and in this case low GMAT score can be explained via additional essay where the Admissions Office asks applicants to include any additional information you want to share.


 

International or global experience. Do you know why Business Schools value applicants’ international experience so much? The reasons are simple:

  1. B-school classes are diverse. Students of various cultures and nationalities, with different backgrounds, from numerous countries, are pursuing the degree in one class, so the school needs to be sure that you will be comfortable with cooperating and will not have any problems with such a multigroup.

  2. International degree opens opportunities to be employed in a global company. After business school your chances of being employed at an international company with managing role increases drastically. Those people who had prior international experience and expanded it with 1-2 years program might be more highly evaluated by the employer.

 

Post graduate plans. If you have plainly defined everything you will do after the program and have a clear picture of your future in 3-5 years and then in 10+ years, that is a big plus for you. Do not forget, that the program you are applying to has to be strongly connected with your targets. It has to contribute - give certain knowledge, expand abilities, evolve skills that you need on your way to accomplish set goals.

 

Work experience. Majority of applicants applying to Business Schools have average work experience of 5 years. Those people who after years of working realized that they do not see future impressive career opportunities without a degree due to knowledge, skills, competency lacking, they tend to go for a degree from business school as it is a good chance to push career. Here is the average work experience applicants had prior to acceptance*:

#

School name

Average Work Experience

1

Harvard University

N/A

2

University of Chicago (Booth)

5 years

3

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

5 years

4

Stanford University

4 years

5

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)

4.87 years

6

Northwestern University (Kellogg)

5.1 years

7

University of California Berkeley (Haas)

5 years

8

University of Michigan  Ann Arbor (Ross)

N/A

9

Columbia University

5 years

10

Dartmouth College (Tuck)

5.25 years

*Data is taken from the official website of the program, the class profile of each of the school

Analyzing, we clearly see that it will be extremely difficult to convince Admissions Office that you really need this degree having only 6 months work experience in total. It is possible because there are cases when Harvard and Stanford admitted students with the work experience less than a year, but you need to show great potential, enormous motivation and be an extremely talented person.

 

Your Weaknesses and how to overcome them

To start with, every point you are lacking from the mentioned above information can be referred to your weakness. If you have lower than average GMAT or IELTS/ TOEFL, or lacking global exposure or have never held managing position - that is definitely not great. However, there are still ways how you can improve your profile. First of all, if you still have a few months, try to work on your weakness, minimize the harm of it on your profile in general. Second, try to recall every aspect of your life and find something relevant.

 

Useful tips to cope with weaknesses

Low GMAT or lower than average. The first advice is to retake it. If you find GMAT too difficult, try next time GRE. Many people claim that is it easier in general. Schools usually accept both GMAT and GRE on equal terms. However, there are still some schools that want you to submit GMAT, check the website or email the Admissions office to be sure.

 

IELTS/ TOEFL lower than required. You might have overall IELTS higher than required, but have a lower score in one of the sections. In this case theoretically they cannot evaluate your application, however, you can contact the Office and consult with them. There might be a chance that they will accept your application for evaluation in case you have much higher score than required. Another way is to retake or take TOEFL (or vice versa if you took TOEFL in the first place).

 

Absence of international experience. Nowadays there is practically no boundaries between countries and a lot of people get a chance to travel so that even people who have never traveled to other countries get a chance to encounter with the internationals. There always must be something. Foreign friends, speaking clubs, summer camps in a neighbor country, chatting with people on the Internet, reading literature in a foreign language - everything where you somehow encountered with foreign culture, language, people. This experience is not as valuable as if you were a manager at international company and had frequent business trips to manage the two international companies project in a third country, but still at least you are aware of what it is to work in a group that is a mixing pot and will not have any problems with that. If you have some time before the round closing, try to get this international experience: start visiting English speaking club, join the discussion club in English, join some local international volunteering organization.

 

Managing/leadership experience capability. Never had this experience at the workplace? You can define it through everyday life: managing trips with friends, organizing activities for common leisure time, your initiatives that were positively accepted or ideas that were implemented into life. You leadership outside the company is also valuable and definitely worthwhile.

 

Conclusion

Before applying to business school, you need clearly define your strength and weaknesses. Any small nuance that you did not take into consideration might cost you admittance. Choosing school, go for the one that is matchable with your profile. Ambitions are always good, but if your profile does not follow the average profile of the school, you will need to put extra effort to explain your choice of the school and why you need the program.

 

MBA Strategy is an admissions consulting company with over 10-year successful history of assisting talented candidates to become top business schools’ students. Our achievements:

  • About 1000 customers with 700+GMAT scores

  • Over 500 students admitted to top US and European business schools

Anna Tokareva is MBA Strategy consultant and expert in school selection and profile assessment advising, CV and application essays brainstorming and polishing.






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Author: Victoria Dudka, MBA Strategy Consultants Team Lead





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