B-School Chart of the Week: What Is the Hardest Part of Applying to Business School?

Although quantifying a school’s profile certainly does not tell you everything, it can sometimes be helpful in simplifying the many differences between the various MBA programs. Each week, we bring you a chart to help you decide which of the schools’ strengths speak to you.

We recently asked aspiring MBAs to answer a variety of survey questions about their business school prospects and perspectives. Now the results are in, and for those who are curious about their fellow applicants’ views on business school, we will be sharing some of the collected data in our B-School Chart of the Week blog series.

We had 144 total responses to our question “What do you think is/will be the hardest part of the MBA application process?,” including 98 U.S. candidates and 46 international applicants. By far, the most common response was “essays,” both overall and for U.S. and international candidates taken as separate groups. Of all respondents, 59.0% picked this element of the application process. More international candidates did so than U.S. ones, though—67.4% versus 55.1% within their respective groups.

A fairly distant second choice was the GMAT, with 19.4% of all respondents indicating their concern with this element of applying to business school. This was more significant for U.S. candidates, 24.5% of whom noted the GMAT, whereas only 8.7% of international applicants chose the exam as their greatest concern.

Although interviews were the third most common choice overall (5.6%), within each group, this aspect of the application process was actually fourth (5.1% among U.S. candidates, 6.5% among international applicants).

Interestingly, domestic and international candidates differed the most with regard to recommendations and school choice/fit. For American candidates, “recommendations” was the third most common response (6.1%), while “fit/school choice” was fifth (1.0%). These were reversed for international applicants, 8.7% of whom indicated fit/school choice, while just 2.2% said recommendations were expected to be a hurdle.

Of course, from both groups, we received a few outlier responses, ranging from the somewhat lighthearted (“getting in!” and “everything”) to the more introspective (“finding yourself”) and practical (“getting the resume down to one page” and “time management”). Remember, though, whatever part of the application process you may be struggling with, we at mbaMission are here to help. Check out our guides  and a la carte services, and sign up for a free 30-minute consultation today!

Hardest Part of Applying

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2020–2021 MBA Essay Analysis

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