‘I come from a middle class family. Will I be able to afford an MBA from USA, UK, Canada?‘
It’s a common problem for MBA applicants, and not just among those who come from low income backgrounds. Read this article to know why it is such a big issue – How expensive is an MBA abroad?
‘Score high on the GMAT, scholarships will follow’ seems to be the general assumption when it comes to business schools that accept GMAT for their MBA programs. This is why there’s such a desperate rush to get obscenely high GMAT scores in the hope that they would not only get an admit from the best bschools in USA, UK, Australia, Europe and India, but also an icing on the cake i.e. GMAT scholarships.
The assumption isn’t completely illogical. If you look at the MBA applicants from India who talk about their success stories (including GMAT MBA scholarships), most of them do have high standardised test scores. That indicates a strong correlation between GMAT scores and scholarships.
There are several independent institutions that accept applications independently to award financial aid from their own private kitties. Read this post for more details –> MBA Scholarships for Indian students
In this post, we aren’t going to refer to those external organisations. Instead we’ll use the term GMAT scholarships in the broader context to refer to scholarships offered by bschools that accept GMAT scores. Let’s address some basic questions related to this category.
Does a high score guarantee a GMAT scholarship?
Most applicants already know the answer to this question, so we’ll take it up first. The answer, obviously, is No. Check out any bschool website and they’ll talk about how they will evaluate an application holistically, yada yada. You know how it goes.
But the little unwritten rule is that a higher GMAT does significantly improve your odds of being considered for a merit based MBA scholarship. Need based MBA scholarships are evaluated slightly differently. But a higher score does improve your chances with this category too.
Why do MBA colleges reward high scorers with GMAT scholarships?
In any MBA admissions decisions, with all other things (work experience, goals, accomplishments, industry, extra curricular activities) being more or less similar for a given applicant pool, it does help to have one parameter that cuts across the subjectivity.
The average GMAT score for any bschool is also a key factor considered by MBA rankings. So bschools have a natural tendency to show some extra love to those who have managed to Beat the GMAT. What better way to show that love than by playing Santa Claus and dangling a bucketful of free money?
Are GMAT scholarships easier to get than external MBA scholarships?
Yes (admit it, that’s what you wanted to hear, right?). Only in relative terms though. GMAT scholarships are easier to get compared to the external scholarships offered by local or international organisations not affiliated with any bschool.
However there’s a catch. GMAT scholarships offered by the top schools will still be out of reach for most lesser mortals who haven’t won an Olympic medal or invented the cure for the common cold or solved a mystery that was troubling mathematicians for centuries. But we aren’t there yet.
The trick there is to balance out the list of bschools. Include those Ambitious ones, but also make sure that you have Stretch and Practical bschools (these are labels we use in our MBA MAP profile evaluation exercise).
Do the MBA admission rounds influence GMAT scholarships decisions?
Yes they do. As a general rule, Round 1 is when the pot with the treasure at the end of the rainbow is filled up to the brim. So if you have impressed the Admissions committee with your GMAT score, essays, recommendations and interview – apart from the cake (the admit from a top school), your chances of getting a nice little cherry (in the form of GMAT scholarships) go up.
But that doesn’t meant that the golden pot is empty in Round 2. We’ve had clients who have got significant funding in the second round of MBA admissions too. The same criteria apply when it comes to GMAT scores, essays, recommendations and interview. The battle for the freebies gets tougher.
I have a low GMAT score. Should I forget about GMAT scholarships?
Not yet. If you have something solid to offer (maybe not as impressive as an Olympic medal, but something that gives you extra points for diversity, uniqueness, etc), you can keep some of those hopes alive. At MBA Crystal Ball, we have worked with some candidates who (at least on paper) would never seem to be prime candidates for GMAT scholarships, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised. Here’s one such story – MBA Scholarship for low GMAT scorer
Candidates who’ve done market surveys before approaching us tell us interesting stories about admissions consultants in India who have looked at their profiles and promised them admits and scholarships. Don’t fall for such promises.
Unranked MBA colleges might have marketing tie ups with agencies in various countries to offer on-the-spot admits and scholarships. That’s a different ball game.
However, if you are aiming for the best international MBA colleges, forget scholarships, no one can guarantee an admit or even so much as an interview call.
MBA Crystal Ball track record with GMAT scholarships
As a general rule, when we are working with candidates, we are transparent about our limitations. Just for a few extra bucks, we don’t want to take on folks with unrealistic expectations. We don’t consider MBA scholarships as a success criterion. Our main aim is to do the best we can with the components that can be influenced – the overall storyline covering MBA essays, LoRs, interviews.
There are many other factors that the scholarship committee will consider that we have absolutely no control over – your GMAT score, nationality, industry, role, gender, accomplishments.
However, if you read the reviews for MBA Crystal Ball, we’ve done pretty well for our friends. Many of them have got substantial financial aid in the form of GMAT scholarships – including free rides. Read this story of someone who got a 100% MBA scholarship AND a graduate assistantship stipend.
Here’s the 2-phase process that we’ve followed for most of our success stories:
Phase 1 – Create a solid Application Strategy
– Most candidates take up the MBA MAP and get the fundamental application strategy sorted out.
– No point in blindly jumping into essay writing because you think your English is good.
– Do the basic groundwork in terms of choosing and prioritising your pre-MBA accomplishments, ensuring you have a clear and credible post-MBA goal and a convincing answer to the simple-but-tricky Why MBA question.
– Know how to select MBA colleges from the huge list. Choose the MBA schools based on your appetite for risk. If you want GMAT scholarships, then have more ‘Practical’ schools and a few ‘Safe’ schools in your target list. If financing isn’t an issue, choose more from the ‘Stretch’ and ‘Ambitious’ range.
The MBA MAP addresses all of these points.
Phase 2 – Focus on the Application Execution
– Once the primary application strategy and the list of target schools is ready, that’s when candidates come back for the MBA applications help.
– Even if the applicant is applying to (say) 7-8 MBA universities, we suggest getting help for a maximum of 5 schools. Most candidates are intelligent enough to use and extrapolate the ideas & content for the other schools.
Though this approach goes against our commercial interest, it ensures that the candidate is able to become more independent to manage a bulk of the work on his own. The lesser effort and time translates to lesser consulting costs.
There you have it. Not really rocket science. But it’s a 2-phase process that’s simple, logical and tested over a long period. And this is what’s got most of the applicants good admits and a decent amount of free money (several times more than the consulting fee they’ve paid).
If you find our MBA MAP profile evaluation and MBA Essay Editing packages and our overall approach logical, transparent & professional, we’d be happy to work together and try to get you on that same testimonials page.
If you aren’t ready for professional support yet, don’t worry. There’s plenty on this site to get you up to speed and put in a strong set of applications.
Good luck. Hope you get into a good school with lots of scholarship money.
– List of MBA Scholarships for Indian students
– MBA scholarships for African students
– How can international students get full scholarships?
– Scholarship success stories: Student blogs
– Higher education scholarships for international students