Many business schools offer admitted students merit-based scholarships, which are financial awards based on academic success and other strengths in a candidate’s application; these scholarships do not require any repayment on the part of the student. Merit-based scholarships can range from being partial in nature to being a full scholarship. Given the high tuition of MBA programs, it is not surprising that a question that we often get from candidates is what they can do to secure a merit-based scholarship from the MBA programs that they apply to.
To that end, below are 4 tips to maximize your chances of getting an MBA merit-based scholarship.
Take time to build your profile before applying
Applying to business school is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time to build and improve your profile so that you can put your best foot forward during the application process. Merit-based scholarships are given on the strength of an application – this means that all areas of a candidate’s application need to be strong, including aspects like extracurricular activities.
Therefore, before jumping into the application process, it’s important to take stock of your strengths and weaknesses so that you can determine the right plan of action to address gaps in your profile. By doing this as early as you can, you will give yourself plenty of time to position yourself in the best light possible in your applications and increase your chances of being awarded a merit-based scholarship.
Do well on standardized tests
For merit-based scholarships, displaying academic strength is also very important. This is assessed by your GPA and standardized test scores (GMAT or GRE). Your GPA in college is what it is – if it is strong, that definitely helps of course, but if not, the one factor that you can still control is your standardized test score. Depending on your industry, there may be different expectations when it comes to that test score – for instance, finance professionals often have a higher threshold given that they are in an oversubscribed pool. In short, to maximize your odds of getting a merit-based scholarship, maximize your standardized test score.
Apply in earlier application rounds
Unfortunately, business schools have a limited pool of merit-based scholarship funds that are available. Therefore, it is in your best interest to apply in an earlier round (such as Rounds 1 and 2) to give yourself the best shot of securing a scholarship. By later rounds (such as Round 3), most of the merit-based scholarships funds have been exhausted.
Be thoughtful in your applications
Your story, accomplishments, post-MBA goals, and why you are seeking an MBA from a particular school all need to tie together cohesively in your applications. Business schools are seeking candidates who can demonstrate fit, contribute, and ultimately, be impactful leaders in their organizations and communities. Demonstrating thoughtfulness in your applications when “connecting the dots” between what you have done in the past and what you would like to do in the future is paramount with respect to standing out in a competitive pool and being shortlisted for a merit-based scholarship.
As you immerse yourself in the business school application process, preparation and planning will take you a long way towards helping you to secure a merit-based scholarship.
About Ivy Groupe:
Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who has been recognized as a top MBA admissions consultant by Business Insider and Poets & Quants. She 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.
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