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Advice from the Experts on Getting into Business School

Trish Reed • Nov 5, 2012

Earning a spot in a top MBA program weighs heavily on the minds of many MBA hopefuls during the admissions season. A recent article published in The Wall Street Journal featured a Q&A with four experts in the admissions field. The Q&A covered topics such as what business schools look for in applicants, what applicants can do to succeed in the process, and even the value of the GRE compared to the GMAT.

The experts offered valuable advice for those applying to business school, including ways that applicants can stand out. Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of admissions consulting firm mbaMission, contended that whether the applicant be an artist or a banker, it is important that they tell their personal story in vivid detail "while connecting it to post-MBA goals." Dawna Levenson, associate director of admissions at MIT's Sloan School of Management, suggested applicants include a link to a website or video to further show who they are.

Amanda Carlson, assistant dean of admissions at Columbia Business School, spoke of the effect of relaxing in the admissions process."We want to get to know you, how you'll be a part of the community and leave it a better place," she said.

The experts also stressed the importance of effectively communicating with the people who will be writing their recommendations. Both Shinewald and Carlson suggested a lunch date as a way to sit down and recap their accomplishments and goals with a potential result of a more tailored recommendation.

When asked about GRE and GMAT test scores, Shinewald dispelled the notion that the GRE is not taken as seriously as the GMAT by business schools. Keith Vaughn, assistant dean of MBA admissions at University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, added that since a significant number of women take the GRE, accepting this exam opens the school to more female candidates. However, he also stated that ultimately, "neither [the GRE or GMAT score] determines whether or not a person is admitted to our program."

Trish Reed is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College.