There is a lot you can do to improve your admissions chances for MBA and Master’s programs. Your application is entirely crafted by you. Research and preparation are the key to success. Interacting with school insiders is an essential part of this process. Here is a list of key questions you should ask admissions officers, professors, current students or alumni to gain valuable insights.
#1. Application review
Most admissions officers will explain that the review of the applications is a holistic process taking into consideration all elements of the application – test scores, essays, recommendations, interview, etc. However, it will help you if you find out how admissions committees interpret the information in each of these parts of the application.
So, the question is: What should I focus on in each part of the application? This might seem a strange question when it comes to test scores, because naturally you should aim for the highest score. However, you might be surprised to understand that the school values not only a high score, but also a well-balanced one. So, asking admissions advisers this question will not only give you focus, but will help your come up with a winning application strategy.
#2. Type of admission interview
The interview is an essential part of the application for admission, but also for scholarship awards. Nowadays there is a wide variety of interview types – face-to-face on or off-campus, online (phone, video), one-to-one or in a group, and you can be interviewed by a single school representative vs an interviewing team. Another important detail is when the interview is conducted – after pre-selection or all applicants are invited to an interview.
So, the question is: What is the format and schedule of the admissions interview? Interview details are often not readily available on schools’ websites, so it is worth asking an admissions officer during the school research process.
#3. Teaching methods
If you haven’t studied abroad yet, you might not be aware of how different the learning experience can be around the world. In addition, you should factor in that graduate school, and business school, is very different from the undergraduate experience. And MBA classrooms have their own unique features.
So, the question is “What is the typical classroom experience?” You can get the opportunity to meet professors in person during school presentations, at education events, and during open classes on campus. You may also be able to ask your questions during webinars or open online classes. Talking to professors will help you step into the shoes of a student and get a feel for how it will work out for you. It will be great to reflect on this in your essays or motivation letter.
#4. Student contribution
Graduate school is not only for you to learn, but also for you to contribute. It is essential to highlight in your application essays and during the admissions interview how and what you can bring. To do this, you need to understand what will be expected of you, what kind of coursework you will be expected to turn in, what degree of teamwork is expected in the program.
So, the question is “How can I best share my knowledge and skills during my studies?” The guidance you will get will help you highlight your strengths in your application in terms of unique experience and skills. Professors or the program’s academic director will advise you best.
#5. Extracurricular activities
In graduate school, the learning experience happens beyond the classroom. A variety of clubs, projects, internships and student services enrich what you will learn in the academic program. Researching these options can help you select the right graduate school. But highlighting those you consider particularly helpful in your essays and during the interview will make a difference in your application.
So, the question is: “What is the diversity of extracurricular activities on campus?”. You can get some details from the schools’ websites, but a great source of information will be the schools’ admissions team, as well as current students and alumni.
#6. Looking back
By looking back on their experience, alumni can help you look forward to yours. So, the question is: “Would you do anything differently if you were now selecting your graduate school and applying for admission? What? Why?”
Graduates of the program are in a unique position to evaluate their own experience and give you advice. When talking to alumni, factor in how the program might have changed since they were part of it. It will make a difference if you mention in your essay that you have talked to alumni and reflect on the advice that is most relevant for you.
All these different perspectives will enrich your application and add great value to the quality of your presentation. However, make sure you give a good think about each piece of advice and make sure you clarify and express your personal perspective. Your application should be well-informed, but authentic. So the question you should always ask yourself is “Why do I like this school and program?”