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How not to select business schools: MBA application don’ts

A typical MBA profile evaluation request on most MBA discussion forums starts this way.

My GMAT score is 710. I have 4 years work experience in [IT or marketing or finance or add your function/industry].

And the post generally ends with questions that we makes us break into a sweat:

What are my chances at the top 10 / 20 / 30 B-schools?

Which business schools should I apply to?

It’s common practice on discussion forums for MBA applicants to approach peers (including competing applicants vying for the same seats!) and admission consultants in droves for free advice on everything from whether an MBA is right for them, to choosing the right bschool, to tips in essays.

And there are more than enough folks to respond to such queries, including us.

Marketing, a necessary evil of the business world!

We’ve got to have a presence out there, so people have a way to evaluate us.

However, if you have carefully analysed our responses on various threads that we are active on, you would have realised what we are going to talk about in this post.

In our discussion forum responses, we are more than happy to answer general questions about strategies and dilemmas.

But when it comes to providing a list of the best schools for any candidate, we shy away.

If you push us too hard, we might ask you for your choices and provide our high level inputs.

There’s another question that’s as important as asking ‘how to select business schools’ and ‘what are my chances at the top bschools’. And that is…

How not to select business schools

Wrong way to select business schools

When everyone else is more than happy to recommend top business schools based on a GMAT score and a few lines about work experience, industry and role, why are we shooting ourselves in the foot by not doing the same?

Why do we stretch the process and make it painful for both sides by insisting on first testing your essay writing skills, your interviewing skills, the credibility of your post-MBA goals…and putting a price tag on it [yup, we’re referring to our MBA Mock Application Process (MBA MAP)] when everyone else is doing it for free anyway?

Here’s the reason.

Selecting the right bschool will be one of the most important decisions of your life. It CANNOT be based on a few basic parameters.

On online forums, we are not comfortable saying – ‘You come from a very competitive pool and there’s not much in your profile that tells us what makes you unique and special. But hey…let’s not worry about any of that. Here’s a list of schools you should apply to.

The individual parameters (your grades, your GMAT score, your number of years of work experience, your nationality) that go into the final decision don’t mean much if you take out the story that binds them together.

The information that you can share on discussion forums and the inputs you get back are good as an ice-breaker, but it is hardly enough to provide solutions that you can act upon.

During the MBA MAP process, when we first receive the basic information from candidates, to be honest most profiles do appear quite similar. Pretty much like they do on discussion forums.

It’s only when we start the interaction phase that their profiles really come to life.

Often average sounding profiles start gaining new dimensions, while apparently stronger profiles (many with high GMAT scores, the best institutes in the country and impressive sounding professional backgrounds) lose their sheen.

So if you are planning to get free MBA profile evaluations based on basic profile data and tempted to ask ‘What are my chances?‘, please be aware of the limitations of the process.

And pardon us for not providing quick, easy (and practically useless) answers to speculative questions that require more respect and attention.

When you are planning to invest over a $100,000 (70 lakh to a crore in Indian Rupees) on the degree, don’t take important decisions (selecting business schools being among the most crucial ones) purely on the basis of high-level advice from strangers on the internet.

Read this related post on: How to select business schools.

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

11 thoughts on “How not to select business schools: MBA application don’ts”

  1. I can personally vouch for the MBA MAP process having availed it in the past. Its a great and unique way to kickstart your MBA process You will get drilled in a Mock MBA style interview based on a questionnaire and few short essays. This gives MCB the opportunity to target specific questions to a) access your rationale for MBA and research of B Schools b) Make them give you opinions about your choices, strengths, weakness and potential recommendations. But bear in mind, this simulation will need you as a user to make a serious attempt with commitment if you personally want to get the most out of it.

    Its a more accrate way to answer those circumspect questions on”what are my chances” or “where should i apply” and can help you make a more targetted attempt at B school applications.


  2. Hi Folks!!

    I am Alagesh from Chennai, India and I am looking for MBA universities in USA & CANADA.

    My academics profile is very low. I seriously doubt whether I will get admissions. But still, I want to try for it.
    Please find my details below.

    IELTS : 7
    Work Experience : 3 years
    Company : MNC company in Chennai,India
    Role : Application Packaging Manager

    Leadership skills : Currently Managing a team 4 members including myself and I’m the offshore Lead for the Support systems in my Project. Organised many Financial Services (FS) related Events in my company such as Townhalls and hosted my company’s top Leadership gatherings.

    Received many Awards such as Topper of the Batch award during my Training , Excellence Award for individual Performance, etc.

    Chief co-ordinator for CSR events and conducted HTML & ASP.NET classes to students and also helped orphan childrens via organisations such as UDAVUM KARANGAL and so on.

    Innovation skills : As I am a part of my company’s core FS committee in Chennai, I have contributed lots of ideas and one of such ideas is appreciated by my company’s Leadership team and I have got monetary benefits for that.

    I have won the deal of handling support systems for Anti Money laundering application and Online share markets supporting application in my Project.

    GMAT SCore : 440 (Quants : 41, Verbal :12)
    Under Grad College : Reputed Deemed University, Tamilnadu, India.
    Degree : Bachelor of Technology, IT (Information Technology)
    Under Grad GPA : 6.3 in Indian board’s calculation and 1.3 in US board calculation.

    Can someone help me finding the colleges in USA & CANADA in which I have chances of getting admitted ??

  3. Sir, i have left a query related to my career on your MCB email, will it be possible for you to reply,
    if some other email id is accessible to you please mention that for me,
    you can reply directly on
    will hope your at any of the place.

  4. Sir,

    I have a serious problem and I get different answers each time I pop the question. I’ve done my schooling from West Bengal Board and I scored 77.7% marks in 10th and 68.5% in 12th (Science) standards respectively.Post that I took 1 year dropout to prepare for IIT although I didn’t get through. Post that I took admission in an Engineering college in 2007 but dropped out of that as it wasn’t working out for me. In 2010 I took admission in BBA and finished that up by 2013. Post that I have work experience in the Marketing domain as a marketing analyst and later as a Marketing Manager and my entire experience sums up to 3 years. If I crack a good score in the GMAT, what are my chances of getting an admission in MBA IN US?

    Thanks & Regards,

  5. hii…!!!
    In my B.E., my academics were like
    first year=74%
    second year=75%
    third year=88% and
    fourth year=92%.
    I had done my B.E not in a very popular college like IITs or NITs.
    what are my chances of entering a top Bschool??

  6. Hi

    I am 29 and have 7 years (in total 9+ if it is considered before graduation work experience) of work experience in product and strategy function in Bangladesh and undergrad degree in Business.

    I would like to pursue my post MBA career in Mgt consultancy for 3/5 years then would like to start my own ventures ( specifically in multiple ventures manner by founding several startups through sourcing fund from. venture capitals)

    I have two queries: 1) whether the career path I have defined is feasible and make sense in relation to an MBA?

    And, 2) whether a 1 year MBA will help me to land a desired MGT consuktancy job in top-tier firms?


  7. Dear sir ,
    I have a desire to do my MBA in top business school,even though I haven’t worked for good firms like BCG and McKinsey but I have worked as a college lecturer for 4 years and have GMAT score of 750 .help me


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