Non-traditional background


Molly

Hi all,

After countless months of studying so hard that I almost burned out, I finally took the GMAT and scored a 720 (Q 49 V 40). I am so glad and relieved! But now another kind of hard work is awaiting me - applications... As I don't want to send too many applications since I don't want to overwhelm my recommenders, I would need some advice.

I think I have quite an unusual profile for an MBA applicant - I am a female from a minority, with a humanities background, and have seven years of international work experience (worked for my government and for a social enterprise in a developing country).

I want to do an MBA because ideally I would like to become a general manager in a large non profit organization or a for-profit social enterprise. I am not closing the door to Media and Entertainment careers either. That's why I consider applying to several of the following programs:

- Stanford
- Berkeley
- INSEAD
- NYU
- Yale
- UCLA
- Oxford

I think that it would be better to apply to a maximum of 4 schools in order to get focused. Would you agree with me or do you think I should try to target as many schools as possible in order to increase my chances to be admitted somewhere - perhaps with a nice scholarship?

Given the brief profile I described above, do you think there are some schools that are completely out of my league (e.g Stanford), or that I should completely drop because I would not be a good fit (e.g. UCLA or NYU)?

I value a lot your comments. Thanks in advance!

Hi all,

After countless months of studying so hard that I almost burned out, I finally took the GMAT and scored a 720 (Q 49 V 40). I am so glad and relieved! But now another kind of hard work is awaiting me - applications... As I don't want to send too many applications since I don't want to overwhelm my recommenders, I would need some advice.

I think I have quite an unusual profile for an MBA applicant - I am a female from a minority, with a humanities background, and have seven years of international work experience (worked for my government and for a social enterprise in a developing country).

I want to do an MBA because ideally I would like to become a general manager in a large non profit organization or a for-profit social enterprise. I am not closing the door to Media and Entertainment careers either. That's why I consider applying to several of the following programs:

- Stanford
- Berkeley
- INSEAD
- NYU
- Yale
- UCLA
- Oxford

I think that it would be better to apply to a maximum of 4 schools in order to get focused. Would you agree with me or do you think I should try to target as many schools as possible in order to increase my chances to be admitted somewhere - perhaps with a nice scholarship?

Given the brief profile I described above, do you think there are some schools that are completely out of my league (e.g Stanford), or that I should completely drop because I would not be a good fit (e.g. UCLA or NYU)?

I value a lot your comments. Thanks in advance!
quote
Inactive User

@Molly,

I would recommend you to apply to 6-7 schools. It's a good practice to diversify your risks by applying to 2-3 schools that are good fit, 2-3 reach and 1-2 safe schools.

Schools that you mentioned are all tip Tier schools. Apply to 3-4 of them - but understand that such schools receive applications in thousands. Apply to some of the "Tier II" safe schools as well - they'd be the ones giving you more in scholarships.

@Molly,

I would recommend you to apply to 6-7 schools. It's a good practice to diversify your risks by applying to 2-3 schools that are good fit, 2-3 reach and 1-2 safe schools.

Schools that you mentioned are all tip Tier schools. Apply to 3-4 of them - but understand that such schools receive applications in thousands. Apply to some of the "Tier II" safe schools as well - they'd be the ones giving you more in scholarships.
quote
badux

6-7 schools is fine. But consider this: the schools are going to ask which others you are applying to, and it will look odd to them that you're applying to such a wide range of schools (somebody whose goals mesh with an MBA at Yale will not necessarily fit in at Insead). What this signals to the schools is that you may not have a focused reason for doing an MBA; rather, you're just applying to a bunch of top schools in the hopes that you'll get into one.

Make sure you have a good reason for applying to each school - do your research on career outcomes, culture, etc - and really make it clear what appeals to you about each school in your essays and interviews.

6-7 schools is fine. But consider this: the schools are going to ask which others you are applying to, and it will look odd to them that you're applying to such a wide range of schools (somebody whose goals mesh with an MBA at Yale will not necessarily fit in at Insead). What this signals to the schools is that you may not have a focused reason for doing an MBA; rather, you're just applying to a bunch of top schools in the hopes that you'll get into one.

Make sure you have a good reason for applying to each school - do your research on career outcomes, culture, etc - and really make it clear what appeals to you about each school in your essays and interviews.
quote
Molly

Dear Ayon, dear Badux, thank you both for your valuable inputs!

@ Badux

Your comment scared me since I've put a lot of thoughts into the choice of these schools. I thoroughly selected them because their specializations correspond to my academic interests, and because they provide great experiential/global learning experiences. I also looked carefully at their career outputs, and they seemed okay for my career goals (general management; non profit, media) - except for NYU, but its curriculum is amazing and NY is the headquarter of many NGOs and social enterprises...

Regarding INSEAD, it was in fact recommended to me by one of my previous employers, who knows me well and thought I could be a great fit there because of my international aspirations. Besides, in the long term I want to work in Asia, and INSEAD is (unfortunately) the only school in Asia where I could see myself - because of the teaching style, and pool of applicants.

I said I was afraid by Badux's comment because I spent many nights reading all schools websites, listening to webinars, contacting the admissions teams, and I've carefully chosen these schools for specific reasons. Now I am freaking out at the idea that schools will just regard me as a candidate who only wants to enter any top school, whereas it's not the case at all!

I hope my essays show will how extensively I thought about choosing each school, but I have now huge doubts about what they will think about me...!

Dear Ayon, dear Badux, thank you both for your valuable inputs!

@ Badux

Your comment scared me since I've put a lot of thoughts into the choice of these schools. I thoroughly selected them because their specializations correspond to my academic interests, and because they provide great experiential/global learning experiences. I also looked carefully at their career outputs, and they seemed okay for my career goals (general management; non profit, media) - except for NYU, but its curriculum is amazing and NY is the headquarter of many NGOs and social enterprises...

Regarding INSEAD, it was in fact recommended to me by one of my previous employers, who knows me well and thought I could be a great fit there because of my international aspirations. Besides, in the long term I want to work in Asia, and INSEAD is (unfortunately) the only school in Asia where I could see myself - because of the teaching style, and pool of applicants.

I said I was afraid by Badux's comment because I spent many nights reading all schools websites, listening to webinars, contacting the admissions teams, and I've carefully chosen these schools for specific reasons. Now I am freaking out at the idea that schools will just regard me as a candidate who only wants to enter any top school, whereas it's not the case at all!

I hope my essays show will how extensively I thought about choosing each school, but I have now huge doubts about what they will think about me...!
quote
Inactive User

6-7 schools is fine. But consider this: the schools are going to ask which others you are applying to, and it will look odd to them that you're applying to such a wide range of schools (somebody whose goals mesh with an MBA at Yale will not necessarily fit in at Insead). What this signals to the schools is that you may not have a focused reason for doing an MBA; rather, you're just applying to a bunch of top schools in the hopes that you'll get into one.

Make sure you have a good reason for applying to each school - do your research on career outcomes, culture, etc - and really make it clear what appeals to you about each school in your essays and interviews.


I think it's a matter of opinion how will B schools perceive 6-7 other schools a candidate is applying. They will see that out of 6-7 schools 2-3 are in direct competition and may think that because the candidate is smart to have a Plan B and diversifies risks he/she has applied to some schools in Tier II as well.
Either ways, the essays and interviews will play a vital part. I don't assume that "which schools you have applied to" will be a make or break. But since I don't have my MBA from a top tier school - I wouldn't know the thought process behind selection.

[quote]6-7 schools is fine. But consider this: the schools are going to ask which others you are applying to, and it will look odd to them that you're applying to such a wide range of schools (somebody whose goals mesh with an MBA at Yale will not necessarily fit in at Insead). What this signals to the schools is that you may not have a focused reason for doing an MBA; rather, you're just applying to a bunch of top schools in the hopes that you'll get into one.

Make sure you have a good reason for applying to each school - do your research on career outcomes, culture, etc - and really make it clear what appeals to you about each school in your essays and interviews.[/quote]

I think it's a matter of opinion how will B schools perceive 6-7 other schools a candidate is applying. They will see that out of 6-7 schools 2-3 are in direct competition and may think that because the candidate is smart to have a Plan B and diversifies risks he/she has applied to some schools in Tier II as well.
Either ways, the essays and interviews will play a vital part. I don't assume that "which schools you have applied to" will be a make or break. But since I don't have my MBA from a top tier school - I wouldn't know the thought process behind selection.
quote
badux

I would agree with that - good to have a Plan B.

@Molly - sorry to have freaked you out with my comment. It sounds like you have adequate reasoning for each of the schools, and that's what they're going to want to see.

Just know, in the back of your head, that the differences in cultures in schools like Yale (and to some extent Stanford) and a school like Insead will be quite large. The fact that you're applying to such a range of schools will probably raise eyebrows - because a Yale student's goals and expectations will probably be vastly different from those of an Insead student's - but in the end, this isn't something to be really concerned about, since you've done your research and have a good idea about your fit at each school.

[Edited by badux on Sep 01, 2016]

I would agree with that - good to have a Plan B.

@Molly - sorry to have freaked you out with my comment. It sounds like you have adequate reasoning for each of the schools, and that's what they're going to want to see.

Just know, in the back of your head, that the differences in cultures in schools like Yale (and to some extent Stanford) and a school like Insead will be quite large. The fact that you're applying to such a range of schools will probably raise eyebrows - because a Yale student's goals and expectations will probably be vastly different from those of an Insead student's - but in the end, this isn't something to be really concerned about, since you've done your research and have a good idea about your fit at each school.
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