We should probably make a “READ THIS!” sticky post at some point, since these ideas about applying to business school seem to never go away. And they’re wrong.
1. “I’m at a disadvantage because I don’t have any ‘brand name’ companies on my resume.”
Not true, buckaroo. The adcoms totally don’t care where you work; you don’t have to have any sexy companies on your CV to get in. Your job is to communicate what you have done and how you’ve had an impact – this is true whether you’re working at Goldie’s Pawn Shop or Goldman Sachs.
2. “My grades aren’t in the 4.0 GPA, the adcom won’t know how to evaluate my transcript.”
Also false. All the top schools get thousands of applications every year. Go through that cycle a few times and you are guaranteed that they’ve seen it all – yes, even if you went to school in the farthest-away nook of the planet. Maybe if your diploma is charcoal drawn on a tiger skin and you earned coconut shells instead of grades, then there’s something to be concerned about… but if you earned a degree from a credentialed institution in any part of the world, we can assure you that the adcom will be able to figure out how to compare you to all the other BSers. Remember that they do this for a living – and they also have a bunch of other schools on their university campus, they can go ask their colleagues in the admissions departments in those other buildings scattered around if they need to.
If you’re still worried about it: write a (brief!!) optional essay to give some context (e.g., “This is the top-ranked program in my country” or whatever). Back it up with data (“…according to the Education Ministry”). Include it in your app if you’re the paranoid type – but we really don’t think it’s necessary.
3. “It’s only finance people at ______________________.”
We hear this all the time and you can fill in the blank with a variety of different schools. While yes, some schools do have proportionally more people interested in finance than others, it’s never categorical. Especially over the last ten years, the schools have all diversified. They’ve, like, had to. Remember that thing that happened a few years ago? In, oh, somewhere around 2008? That took the market apart when it comes to MBA candidates and finance. The schools were already trying to emphasize how their MBA programs were great for all these other industries and fields, and since then, they’ve pushed even harder, both internally and externally, to show the world that they’re more than finance. But some ideas are hard to shake and definitely, a handful of schools do have this “finance-only” reputation. (It used to be an advantage, frankly – something that attracted BSers to those schools – not no more.)
Regardless, there’s no school in the world these days that’s got so much of a finance focus that you can’t do what your finance-averse self wants to do with an MBA there. And think about it: If it’s true that all they have are finance people, then won’t it be easier for your app to stand out?
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These are just the biggies. We could probably write an encyclopedia on all the things that BSers misbelieve about this whole process. Our main message to you: Use reliable sources for your information. The schools themselves try to debunk these myths on a regular basis (Columbia; Stanford). Doing your own on-the-ground research (like, attending an info session) will take you far in understanding the realities at hand.
Or, just ask! We’re here to help.