Those with non-traditional backgrounds often believe they are at a disadvantage when applying to top-tier MBA programs, but that is definitely not the case! Non-traditional applicants can often stand out from the crowd because of their differentiated experiences and what they can uniquely offer their class. However, as a non-traditional applicant, there are a few key areas of the application that you should absolutely nail in order to be competitive.
Clearly articulate your story and emphasize the skills/qualities that business schools value
While all applicants to business school need to be able to convey their story and why the MBA is important with respect to accomplishing their future career goals, this is especially true of non-traditional applicants where it may be tougher for the Admissions Committee to “connect the dots.” As a non-traditional applicant, you should be able to explain why you decided to pursue your path and how the skills/qualities that you have gained in your prior and current professional roles are important ones that business schools value. For instance, did you demonstrate leadership in your role(s) and have impact? Did your take the initiative to creatively solve a problem?
Explain how the MBA will help you in your field
As you formulate your post-MBA goals, it is important to explain why you need the MBA to achieve them. One question that often arises in the minds of Admissions Committee members as they evaluate post-MBA goals is whether you could continue on your current path to get to where you desire to go without the MBA. Therefore, it is important to show how the MBA is an important element of your career trajectory; think about the skills that you will gain in business school (both the hard skills and the soft skills) as well as the relationships that you will build with peers and professors while you are in business school.
Demonstrate your quantitative/analytical abilities
One of the biggest weaknesses of non-traditional applicants is failing to show their quantitative and analytical abilities. Regardless of what your role is, it is extremely important that your quantitative and analytical abilities come through very clearly. There are a few ways to demonstrate this, such as 1) through your undergraduate transcript if you took quantitative classes and did well on them (these could be classes such as calculus, accounting, or statistics), 2) by scoring highly on the quant section of the GMAT/GRE, and 3) through your professional experiences/recommendation letters.
The bottom line? As a non-traditional applicant, embrace your uniqueness!
Sign up for our emails at the bottom of the page to get more tips!
Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.