Imagine sitting in your office in Mumbai at YES Bank or Wipro and thinking about how to catch the attention of your dream US MBA programs like Harvard, Chicago Booth, and Stanford.
Then you realize it is more than 7,000 miles to get from Mumbai to Boston. Oh, and you have a big project due at work leaving no free time to take this trip. What CAN you do when you want to learn more about an MBA program and you don’t have the time or money to be able to visit in person?
Here are 5 tips to get to know an MBA program from afar.
1. DO HIGH LEVEL RESEARCH.
Engage on the forums like GMAT Club, Beat the GMAT, and ClearAdmit as you can learn a great deal from your peers and the experts on these sites. This can help you narrow down your list of MBA programs and ask better questions when you are ready to contact the schools directly.
2. REGISTER WITH MBA PROGRAMS.
Once you know enough to engage in a meaningful way with a school, sign up to receive their alerts. You will get details of upcoming events like coffee chats, webinars and school hosted events. Webinars are presented by admissions committee and, sometimes, current students who can provide insider insights.
3. ATTEND THE CLOSEST EVENT.
Many MBA programs visit India and post their travel schedule on their websites. The MBA Tour is hosting events in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai in September. Make some extra travel effort; prepare for this meeting like an interview. Know your story and why this MBA program is a great fit for you.
I have seen first-hand how candidates with less than perfect GPA and GMAT profiles have received real consideration by making a strong impression at an event.
4. CONNECT WITH REAL PEOPLE.
Follow up with webinar presenters to discuss what you learned in greater depth. Dig into the school’s website and find people you connect with– whether from shared interests, hobbies or groups such as Toastmasters. Most programs post links to their clubs and some even have dedicated ambassadors to answer questions. Work your networks through LinkedIn to identify current students and alumni.
Use email to set up the meetings, but try to engage directly through Skype or the phone. Prepare questions that demonstrate you are serious about this school. Be thoughtful and appreciative in sending thank you notes.
5. GET A GUIDE!
Breaking into top US business schools from India is not an easy task. It helps to have a guide who knows the cultural norms of the MBA admissions process and knows how to help Indian candidates differentiate themselves in a very competitive pool.
It takes time and great effort to conduct thorough research and there are no short-cuts. Given the number of applicants from India, you need to approach the MBA admissions process with a solid plan if you want to stand out from the crowd.
YOU have complete control over the effort you put in and it IS possible to get to know an MBA program from half way around the world. Demonstrating that you have done your homework on an MBA program will make you a more compelling candidate.