College application – an Indian perspective (part 2)

In a previous article, we had shown you some typical scenarios of candidates planning for their MBA college application. We have taken a look of candidates from different backgrounds and having different thought processes – you may access it here. Continuing with the theme of our previous article, we look at four more stories in this one.

Story 5 – I am a 30 year old with 5 years’ experience. I am not stringent about the location

1) Not sure how to go about thinking about short term and long term goal
2) Right now, it feels like the short term goal is to return to my own business and the long term goal is to grow into an international leadership role

Strategy:
This is a fantastic question. In terms of the goals and relating it back to the MBA, it is extremely important to overlay that with the current competencies and skills the candidate has. I would start with the long term goal and work backwards from that. At every stage we would need to demonstrate that the current and planned next steps are aligned to where the candidate needs to go. Where the MBA fits in is to reduce the gap between what is required to reach the long term goal and where the candidate stands today.

The best responses are those where a Plan B will also help reach the desired outcome. However, it might take more time, not be as smooth a path, would require hiring someone else to do the “business” activities as opposed to the “operational” activities or not open enough doors.

As an example, someone wanting to startup their own business would need the following skills –
product management (might require IT based on the nature of product or service)
Sales (including collateral, alliances and PR)
Financial due diligence
Funding from Angel, VC, Institutional or otherwise
Building network from associations
Subject matter and industry experts
As the start-up grows, the other skill sets becoming important are marketing, account management, people management or HR.

Look at this list and make an honest judgement of where your current skill sets are. The gap is what an MBA will provide – using a range of tool-kits including
Course material
Live case practice
Multiple presentations
Alumni network
Connections at different levels and so on.
If you are able to structure your argument where you can demonstrate you know where you want to go and how you can benefit from the MBA, that will go a long way to and give an edge to your college application and satisfy the admissions committee.

However, I am not 100% sure if the long term goal you have mentioned is actually a goal, an objective or an outcome associated with the goal. Maybe start by clarifying that first and then, as I said, work backwards to where he stands now.

Story 6 – I have 700 in the GMAT, with International experience. A female, with HR experience

1) Post MBA, I wish to return to consulting – what should be my approach?
2) Should I retake GMAT?

Strategy:
You have got enough strong points in your career – I wouldn’t necessarily worry too much about GMAT. Having said that, high GMAT definitely helps, particularly in terms of your scholarship chances. Which schools are you targeting?

Also, a prior-MBA and similar post-MBA career choice has to be well defended to your own and the admissions committee’s satisfaction. You have a well rounded background and I would say that this puts you in good chance for the top 20 universities. It is also true that most universities at that level do not have as much funding available – so that’s another judgement call for you.

Story 7 – I have a poor undergraduate GPA. What should I focus on if I wish to do an MBA?

Can I improve my education profile by getting good grades in masters degree before doing my MBA?

Strategy:
I don’t think you can improve that aspect of your GPA by doing a Masters because the application is primarily driven by your undergraduate degree. Any other course will add value only if you can justify why you took the course (as opposed to just increasing your GPA).

Even with a low GPA (something you can’t control), you can apply because there are other elements which are in your control – the GMAT score, explaining yourself, setting yourself apart, your essays, and other aspects of your college application.

Story 8 – I have a strong profile with 10 years’ experience but have a GMAT score of 650

1) I wish to apply to some of the good MBA programs
2) Should I retake the GMAT?

Strategy:
You have quite an interesting background and it looks like you will be fairly competitive at the schools you mentioned. The trick will be to weave a story which will make you appear attractive rather than raise more questions – I think it is quite easily doable.

In terms of your GMAT, it is within lower end of the class and so, to increase your chances definitely give it a go but I would also say that, with your current score and background, setting yourself apart in your college application will not be very hard.

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