Admissions Process Basics ARINGO consultants are the top in the world!

What is an MBA?

An MBA is a Master’s degree in business administration. Business administration studies started to develop about 110 years ago in the US. Wharton, the world’s first collegiate business administration, was established in 1891 with the aim of making the field of business administration more scientific and methodical, while helping managers base their decisions on in-depth research.

Wharton’s concept developed rapidly, and today there are more than 5,000 MBA programs worldwide, including about 3,000 in the US. These programs focus on five main areas of study:

  • Management (organizational behavior, strategy, human resources)
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Operations (logistics, information systems, etc.)
  • Technology and entrepreneurship

There are several types of MBA programs: Full-Time MBA programs, Part-Time MBA programs, Executive MBA programs and online MBA programs.


Harvard University

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Top 3 MBA programs are considered to be Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. M7 schools (top 7 US schools) consist of Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago Booth, Kellogg, Columbia and MIT Sloan. Top 10 may also include Berkeley Haas, Tuck and Darden/Duke/Yale.

Studies usually start in September. A few programs (for example, Columbia, INSEAD, York, HEC, IMD) also offer programs that begin in January.

For studies beginning in September, it is usually possible to start submitting applications in August (more than a year before studies begin). Normally it is possible to submit the application until March. The application process is usually made up of several rounds (except for a few programs that use a rolling admission process).

Based on results from recent years, it is recommended to submit most applications during August-October, especially in cases of rolling admission. In relatively few cases did second round applicants (November – early January) have an advantage.

Admission chances in the last round (usually the third and sometimes the fourth round) are normally significantly lower. At most business schools, the last round begins at some point in January and ends at some point in March. However, there are programs with admission rounds between mid-January and July that are not the last round.

For studies beginning in January, applications can usually be submitted from March to July, but admission chances may decline as time passes. It is recommended that applications be submitted as early as possible (as long as quality is not compromised) as the admission procedure for MBA programs is generally such that it gives applicants applying early an advantage.

This changes from one business school to another. Generally, admission directors tend to say that grades are less important than “the person behind the application.” We estimate that the undergraduate GPA constitutes roughly 20% of the admission considerations.

The application is made up of the documents you will be submitting to the university in order to be admitted to MBA studies. The application is your way of presenting your candidacy to the business school.

Most candidates apply to 4-6 programs.

It is best to approach ARINGO as early as possible:

  • If we decide to support your candidacy, it means that in our estimate, with powerful admission essays you will be a relevant candidate for the Top 10 programs or for the programs you expressed interest in.
  • In addition, spaces fill up as clients book spots with us years in advance.

For studies beginning in September, candidates usually begin the ARINGO process between January and July (14-20 months prior to the beginning of studies).

In the past, we’ve seen that admission rates are highest amongst candidates who begin the admission process relatively early.

For studies beginning in January, candidates usually start the ARINGO process between August and February (11-17 months prior to the beginning of studies).

We may be able to assist you even if you are working on a tighter schedule, but the quality of your application may differ from an application prepared based on the full schedule.

It is possible to upgrade your application (that is, to resubmit it) once a year.

To get your application process started, please fill out the Information Request Form, so that ARINGO can make a decision on supporting your candidacy.

We recommend that you take your first GMAT as early as possible (even 2-3 years before submitting the application) so that you have time to improve your grade if necessary, and so that you can focus on preparing the application. A GMAT grade is valid for 5 years. If you take the test more than once, most schools will consider your highest grade.

Some schools will accept the GRE in lieu of the GMAT.

Most schools require that international applicants whose native language is not English and who have not received a university degree in an English-speaking country take the TOEFL (or its substitutes, such as IELTS or TOEIC). TOEFL scores are valid for 2 years.

Some schools require a minimum TOEFL score.

Admission committees mostly take into consideration your professional history and community activities, the quality of your application essays, your undergraduate grades (and graduate grades, if available), your GMAT score, the interview, and the quality of your recommendations.

At least 2 years of full-time professional experience is usually preferred. If you served in the military, this usually counts as full-time professional experience. Although it is more difficult to gain admission without full-time professional experience, it is possible if your other stats and credentials are exceptionally strong.

Many applicants submit their applications 1 to 4 years after completing their undergraduate degree. However, it is possible to submit the application just ahead of or immediately after completing your degree. In such cases, your professional experience and extracurricular activities during your studies and your grades will play a significant role. If these aspects are exceptionally strong, you will be able to gain admission even to the most highly sought-after programs right around the time you complete your undergraduate degree. If not, you can advance your candidacy with an “impressive” and successful professional record of one or more years following the completion of your undergraduate degree.

Community/public/political activity is likely to help you gain admission. If such activity includes one or more of the following aspects, it is significantly more valuable in terms of your candidacy:

  • It is a management role
  • You were elected to the post
  • You initiated the project, and it became successful
  • The activity enables you to acquire a recommendation from a senior figure (for example, a senior politician) who supervised your work

However, many candidates are admitted to leading programs without any volunteer/community/public work experience (or with limited experience in those fields) thanks to strong performance on other admissions criteria.

Please note: Beginning a volunteer activity just ahead of submitting the application can be a double-edged sword. It may undermine your candidacy if the admission officer gets the impression that this was done solely for the purpose of increasing your admission chances.

As part of the application and admissions process for MBA programs, each university requests several essays (normally 3-6) based on the application essay questions (Why do you want an MBA? Why our school? What is unique about you as a candidate? What was your greatest achievement? Etc.).

If you speak to the alumni of top MBA programs, you will most likely hear the following quite often: “The essays are the most important part of your candidacy”.

No. However, in order to create effective essays, we recommend that you brainstorm with ARINGO before you start writing the essays.

Why not?

  • Because your essays will be stronger if we guide you on how to write them and then edit them with you: The content will be more personal, more unique, more authentic, and more effective.
  • Because we want to continue to maintain good working relations with admission committees at top business schools.
  • Because if we write essays for you and for others, your essays will be similar to the essays of other candidates.

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