This post has been marked as OLD. EssaySnark's advice and strategies for winning MBA applications don't change from year to year, but some of the school-specific admissions policies, essay questions, or other information covered in this article may be outdated.
You may already be aware that EssaySnark are fanboys of certain schools. Michigan Ross comes up a lot on this blahg. We tell everyone who will listen about how awesome Tuck is. We really like how transparent the Chicago Booth adcom is. One we haven’t been mentioning much lately, but should be, is INSEAD.
The thread that runs through these different schools is that in our experience, they are incredibly fair in the admissions process. That’s not to say that other schools are not, or that these are the only schools in this category. Instead, it’s just a comment on how attainable an admission can be to one of these great MBA programs, for the Brave Supplicant who does her homework and puts in the effort.
One driving factor behind this is the reality that these schools don’t get bombarded with applications. There’s varying reasons for it (which we likely exhausted all of your patience in exploring several months back). What this amounts to for the applicants, though, is often an admissions office that is willing to accommodate.
A great example of this is the fact that INSEAD does not ask for an undergraduate degree as a pre-requisite for admission.
Here’s what they say about it in their application FAQ1:
I don’t have an undergraduate degree. Can I still be considered for admission?
Yes. While the vast majority of our participants have undergraduate and/or advanced degrees, this is not compulsory for admission. Candidates who do not hold an undergraduate degree, but who have an excellent career record and GMAT score are also welcome to apply.
There’s a few other programs out there who also don’t have a strict requirement for a bachelor’s degree. We don’t know of a single Top 20 U.S. school that is flexible on this – certainly the other schools that we’re fanboys of are not. They will need to see that completed undergrad transcript as part of your app.
Michigan is even more restrictive in another aspect, in that they won’t let you apply without some work experience. So policies do vary radically, and a school can be hardnosed about certain things and still be fair. In fact, Michigan’s work-experience-required policy seems to us to be more fair than any other school – other schools will let you apply (and gladly take your app fee) even when they know there’s almost no chance that they’ll accept you. Michigan seems more real about this. They put a stake in the ground, there’s no ambiguity.
We’re calling out this INSEAD policy not because we think that there are scores of BSers without college degrees looking to get into business school. Instead, we feel that this policy is indicative of the overall open-mindedness in play at INSEAD. While they are uncompromising in their standards – they really do need to see evidence of leadership and contribution in your app – they are also very practical. They know that people take many paths to get to success, and they don’t want to be black-and-white in their thinking. If you’re coming at this from a non-traditional angle, you definitely have a chance to be considered here.
That being said… your essays better be damn good.
There’s a Round 3 deadline coming up for INSEAD’s January intake. Round 3 is a no-go at many schools but not the case here (unless you’re an Indian candidate, in which case we recommend you sit tight for Round 1 instead – we covered this in a recent answer on GMAT Club if you want to read more ).
There’s a QuickSnark Guidelette for INSEAD available if you want help with their MBA essays. replaced by our guide for Applying to European Business Schools
1 On 1-15-17 the now-dead link to the INSEAD FAQ (previously at http://mba.insead.edu/faq/) was removed in the text above.