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The Anatomy Of B-School Selection

When applying to business schools, the past plays a major role. You cannot change your degree or conjure up work experience to fit the requirements of your business school. All you can do is present your story in the most compelling way possible. While you may have personal preferences, what’s important is whether your candidacy interests the admissions committee. Fortunately, you have a lot of data available in today’s digital age that can aid your decision-making.

There are several business school rankings available that have a lot of useful statistics. Apart from that, you can track social media, refer to blogs by current students, talk with alumni, participate in official school events, and visit campuses to get as much information about the requirements as possible. There are also enough threads online that cover practically every aspect of the admissions process. However, data access is very different from decision making.

The information you glean from the Internet will usually give you strong indicators but rarely any clear answers. You will always have to make a choice. While applying to more schools may sound like a solid strategy to increase your chances, you must remember that every application will require you to dedicate time and effort. It’s your job then to optimize these two variables in such a way that you maximize your chances at getting accepted by your preferred schools.

However, here’s a key point that you need to keep in mind. While your past is etched in stone, the admissions are still a work in progress. There are always going to be subtle or even significant ‘disturbances’ (as the pandemic has shown us) that can have an impact on the intake. So while it’s certainly advisable to use data for decision making, there’s always going to be some uncertainty that can give rise to unpredictable outcomes.

What we’re trying to get at is that you shouldn’t necessarily discount schools that have been ousted by data. This obviously doesn’t work if the gap is too much. However, if you’re reasonably close (another call you need to make), then it may just be that lottery ticket won by the admissions committee member prior to evaluating your application that may push you past the finish line. All in all, you can rely on a bit of providence or chalk it down to courage.

So what is the takeaway from this article? It’s simple. You need to hedge your bets. After figuring out how many schools you can realistically apply to, you should divide your list into three sets. The first set should contain schools you know you will get into. The second set should comprise of schools that are competitive for your profile. But it’s the third set that’s going to be the most exciting. These will be schools that are beyond your reach. But then, you never know.


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