5 tips to successfully apply to an American business school

American business school
A good American business school could help you unleash the next phase of your life. Source: Oli Scarff/ AFP

An American business school typically boasts established networks and vast connections with domestic and international organisations. This proves attractive to international students who are not just looking for a postgraduate qualification, but an experience that will launch the next phase of their career. It also explains the growing appeal of a Master of Business Administration (MBA), even during challenging times.

International students in particular may have to jump through additional hoops to land their place in a good MBA course. You will have to obtain a visa and make travel arrangements, of course — but only after you are accepted by the institution. So if you’re envisioning an American business school experience for yourself, here’s five things to remember when applying.

Explore the MBA virtually

Virtual admissions opportunities have drawn out a more diverse pool of applicants globally. Students from outside major host countries and cities showed increasing interest in American business schools since they became privy to online recruitment sessions. Admissions officers say virtual recruitment is here to stay, which can be beneficial for international students.

“Like everyone else, all of our admissions recruitment was 100% virtual this year. Because of all the virtual recruitment options and opportunities to meet with us individually, by Skype or by Zoom, we had a much more diverse pool of international applicants,” said Jim Holmen, director of admissions and financial aid for the MBA programme at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

American business school

Start early to ensure you cover all bases in your B-school application. Source: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Take admissions tests early

You will have to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) to apply to an American business school. It consists of four sections: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal. You will be scored from 200 to 800 and this score is valid for five years. Besides that, you may also have to take a language proficiency test such as the IELTS. This, however, depends on your university and country’s requirements — as well as the country you are coming from.

Complete these tests early as having the scores handy will help speed up your application process.

Translate if necessary

Coming from countries with different official languages, international students should ensure all their supporting documents can be processed by the university. Some American business schools are more flexible than others, so check the translation guidelines of the MBA programme you’re applying to. Translate your letters of recommendation and transcripts if necessary.

Put your best foot forward

Your application should encapsulate not just where you’ve been, but where you want to go. This is where your personal essay comes in handy — it separates you from thousands of other applicants. Get started on a draft early so you can gradually improve on it before the submission date. Be sure to articulate your interests and goals, demonstrate your past experiences and success by example, and keep everything short and sweet.

Sort your funding for American business school

Studying abroad can be costly, so it’s vital that you plan your finances well before applying. International students must prove that they can afford to study and live in the US throughout the duration of the programme. How? By submitting bank statements, scholarship, and student loan documents to your university’s admissions department, which will then estimate your financial standing against US immigration requirements. Thankfully, most institutions offer scholarships and bursaries to bright international students, too.