8 Tips for Chinese Female MBA Applicants

There are more women from China in the MBA pipeline than from anywhere else in the world. In 2017, the Graduate Management Admissions Council reported that 46,274 women in China took the GMAT, representing a whopping 67% of all Chinese GMAT testers.

Additionally, the mean GMAT score sent to MBA programs from all Chinese test takers was 55 points higher than US scores and 23 points higher than Indian scores.

What does this mean if you are a female from China with your eyes set on a top MBA program? A strong GMAT score alone is not going to get you accepted. In fact, your GMAT score almost certainly needs to be higher than the class average for your dream school. So, no matter how great your GMAT score is, it is only the beginning of a compelling application.

Here are 8 tips to magnify that score and increase your odds of success:

1) Demonstrate Strong Communications Skills

The ability to communicate fluently and fluidly in English is essential to success in the MBA classroom and in recruiting. MBA programs will assess your communications skills through your essays, supplemental video interviews, any emails you send them and, hopefully, an interview.

Your TOEFL, IELTS or PTE score must match the English speaking, understanding and writing abilities that you present through all your interactions. Consider joining a group like Toastmasters to improve your communications skills. If you are not speaking English regularly, join an online community where you can engage with native English speakers. Keep a journal to capture your experiences and accomplishments while practicing your writing.

2) Impress with Your Professional Experience

In my prior experience evaluating Chinese applicants for UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program, and my current work coaching applicants, I have seen the outstanding work experience among Chinese women, be it as entrepreneurs, executives at multinational corporations, or healthcare professionals. Emphasize your ability to drive results and build upon your prior professional experience when considering your post MBA career goals.

3) Highlight Leadership and Teamwork Skills

Review your professional and extracurricular activities through a lens of impact. How have your professional assignments contributed to the overall success of the organization? Can you demonstrate that you have built effective teams? Business schools select candidates who have demonstrated the potential to become senior leaders and look for early signs of this through leadership examples and the ability to work well with others.

4) Be Assertive in Creating Connections

Building a relationship with the program through the application process is an important way to get to know a school and for the school to get to know you. Even if you are unable to travel to visit a school, there are many ways to meaningfully engage with your target MBA programs. Attend MBA fairs and school-specific events/webinars, reach out to local alumni, and connect with club officers related to your interests. Sometimes the best place to start is with the Asian or Chinese Business Club since members were in your position not too long ago.

5) Select Strong Recommenders

When I worked on the admissions side one of the strongest recommendation letters I ever read was written in support of a female Chinese applicant; it was a very effective part of her overall application. Choose recommenders who can champion your candidacy. Ideally, your supervisor has strong writing skills and can provide details on your ability to lead, build strong teams, and deliver exceptional business results. If your supervisor is more comfortable writing the recommendation in their native language, ask each MBA program about having the recommendation translated.

6) Find Programs Looking for More Women

Poet’s & Quants recently addressed female business school representation in this article, noting that women made up over 43% of the class at Wharton, Tuck, Ross and Yale. However, other top MBA programs reported lower percentages of women such as Fuqua (34%) and Cornell (27%). MBA programs with lower percentages of women are likely looking for ways to add more talented women to their class.

7) Research Programs That Best FIT Your Needs

Look beyond all the hype and rankings. Dig into the specific details of each school to determine which programs will provide the best environment and resources for you. For example, if you are changing industries, look for programs with strong experiential learning opportunities through which you could test your newly acquired skills and knowledge. Research the career support provided for international students.

8) Seek Support

None of this is easy-seek coaching from a trusted advisor who understands the challenges international students face in the competitive MBA admissions process.

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