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Understanding the MBA Admissions Process

You've seen the hiring statistics, salary-increase metrics, and career-advancement infographics for MBA grads. There aren't a lot of downsides to earning a master of business administration if you're passionate about growing your career in the corporate world, so it's worth taking the time to be deliberate (and downright choosy) about the program you select. Here is what you can expect if you're applying to an MBA, executive MBA, or online MBA program and how to increase your chances of getting in.

Before Your MBA Application

There are two key factors to consider in terms of timing your application submissions:

Time for Research

You will want to take time to learn about the various MBA programs that interest you, their admission requirements, and their deadlines. Then you will likely need time to schedule campus or class visits, information sessions, and interviews.

How much time do you need to get a good test score?

You might take the GMAT tomorrow and get a great score. Or not. You'll want to give yourself time to prepare for the test and maybe even take the test a second time to boost your quantitative profile.

With both of the above activities underway, you're ready to start culling your list of prospective schools.

During Your MBA Application

At the Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School, we look at hard numbers like your GMAT and GPA in concert with flexible factors like your work and personal experience, essay content, and letters of recommendation. Most MBA admissions officers today—particularly systems that are cohort-driven—approach admissions similarly. Many do require minimum scores and minimum GPAs, but don't let that deter your MBA pursuits. These restrictions will help you focus your time and energy on the schools that are the right fit.

To create an exceptional and authentic impression on your top choices:

Tell a Compelling Story

What you offer is a composite of your successes and failures, and you shouldn't be afraid to discuss both in person or on paper. Have your goals remained the same since you graduated high school, despite academic, personal, and professional trials? That's an interesting story. Have they swung in the opposite direction? That's a story, too. Likewise, your family, your travels, and your personal life are wholly unique to you.

Use best judgment about the what you reveal personally in the course of your application. The focus of your application materials should be your business acumen and academic potential.

Bonus Tip: Watch some popular TED Talks like this one. They often include personal stories that provide texture while avoiding unnecessary repetition and can serve as a good guide on how to present yourself on paper and in person.

Show Organization and Initiative

Admissions counselors are busy, so contact with them—though often encouraged—should be minimal. Do establish a rapport, but know that certain questions can be answered on your own, oftentimes by visiting the school's website.

And it bears repeating: proofread over and over again. Double-check your application for errors and omissions. Enlist a friend or family member to catch what you might miss.

Bonus Tip: For added insight, speak with someone you know who has already earned an MBA and ask them about their admissions process and program experience.

Have a "Why"

Be able to explain not only why you want to pursue an MBA, but why you want to pursue this MBA program at this particular school.

MBA admissions teams are trying to strike balance in a cohort. They're tasked with assembling a distinct group of people who will challenge one another and benefit best from the program, so be prepared to articulate what it is that inspired you to apply to this particular MBA. Be prepared to describe yourself as part of a larger whole as a prospective student, graduate, and practitioner.

Timely Follow-Up

If you are interviewed by an admissions officer, be sure to follow up shortly thereafter with a thank-you note expressing your appreciation of the individual's time and your interest in attending the school.

Bonus Tip: Read MBA Alumni Stories about how Pepperdine Graziadio MBA graduates are unifying their education, their passion, and the greater good toward success.

After Your MBA Application

Relax. You've just taken a massive step toward career and personal growth. Most schools will provide a timeline and set of instructions for this angst-ridden period, and we strongly recommend that you respect those guidelines. There is no need to contact the admissions office to nudge the process unless there is a glaring omission in your application.

If you don't hear back from a school in the time allotted by the admissions office, by all means, reach out in a friendly, concise manner.

Many times, the school will provide you with an advisor to communicate with when there are any questions or concerns. Do not hesitate to reach out to that advisor when there are any issues that you would like to cover.

If you are ready to take the first step, get out there! Come to an event, reach out, or start an application, anything you feel most comfortable with. We're always available to provide you with more information about Pepperdine's part-time, full-time, or online MBA options.