Top 5 tips to get accepted into an ivy league school MBA programme

SOURCE: Nadia Zheng
Susan Berishaj coaches students to navigate admissions at ivy league schools and top-tier institutions.

By U2B Staff 

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Getting accepted into an MBA programme in an ivy league school is a dream come true for many. But realistically speaking, is this dream even worth pursuing? U2B caught up with Susan Berishaj, founder at Sia Admissions Consulting, LLC, a one-on-one consulting services in navigating all aspects of the admissions application, for both U.S. and international students applying to the U.S. and international English-speaking universities to find out how MBA applicants can secure admission into ivy league school MBA programmes.

According to Berishaj, earning an MBA from an ivy league school or an M7 school, a term used to describe the seven most elite business schools in the world is a dream come true for many. However, to gain admission to these programs is highly competitive and this is reflected by single-digit admission rates.

With that said, Berishaj believes that this is a worthy dream for many and it may even be a necessity for those that are looking to enter highly competitive sectors like consulting finance, and even tech.

An MBA from an ivy league school or M7 school can also be very beneficial for those with entrepreneurial venture aspirations, mainly if they will, at any point, seek funding for their start-up. Berishaj adds that someone with an MBA from Wharton, for example, will have an easier time securing financing than one with an MBA from a locally recognised business school.

Earning an MBA from an Ivy League or M7 programme is therefore worth pursuing if it is instrumental to your success story. If that is not the case, Berishaj recommends that prospective students should look at other top-ranked MBA programmes with a strong return on investment and brand recognition that can still successfully get you to your dream career.

Susan Berishaj is the founder of Sia Admissions Consulting.

Broadly speaking, Ivy leagues or M7 schools look for ambitious young professionals with about five years of work experience at matriculation who have demonstrated intellectual capabilities. These are reflected in their academics and standardised test scores, leadership potential exemplified in their past experiences, and are impact-oriented by demonstrating a desire to impact a sector or community.

However, with that said, there is no perfect profile and some prospective students have lower academic experiences but have mitigated their GPA with a stronger GMAT/GRE and gain admission. On the other hand, there are some others who have less desirable GMAT/GRE scores and mitigate this by displaying a sound technical and analytical work experiences.

An element found across the board in a successful candidate is a passion for leading and making a difference in society as candidates will also be measured by the commitment is reflected in the quality of their work engagement and the vision they hold for the future. Typically, these are individuals who have significantly contributed to their communities be that professionally or academically and seek to continue and increase the impact in their chosen sector or field.

In general, MBA graduates from ivy league schools fare better than their counterparts. Berishaj says that “If we look at earnings, according to the Princeton Review, the ten-year ROI of an Ivy league or M7 graduate is over 300% of what they would have made without an MBA compared to the ROI of a top 30 business school, which is over 200%,”

“According to this quantitative measure, we infer that an ivy league school or M7 graduate earns 50% more than its counterpart at a top 30 MBA programme,” she adds. That said, the return on investment should not only be measured from an earnings perspective.  Ivy league or M7 business schools invest a lot of funds in ensuring students have ample opportunities to learn, gain unique experiences, and build a strong network.

These learning opportunities and networks continue even post-graduation – the camaraderie among alumni is a part of the identity at Ivy league or M7s, which alumni carry and experience globally.


Top 5 tips for an MBA applicant who wants to get into an ivy-league school or M7 business school

Berishaj recommends that applicants to these schools should have a clearly defined goal. This means not only an understanding of your short- and long-term professional aspirations, but also what you seek from the MBA such as the opportunities and experiences that you wish to obtain, as it relates to those goals.

Secondly, as an MBA applicant, you must be reflective of your experiences so you can communicate what you bring to the table. Making a list of meaningful personal, professional, and community experiences is an essential step in the admissions process. This list will help you select narratives that reflect your character, values, and mission unique and which essentially helps you to stand out in the application process.

Thirdly, you should examine the target school’s values because even though you may target several ivy league or M7 schools, they are each different in their own right.

“Find the nuanced differences and make sure your application speaks to the values of the school,” Berishaj adds. “If you have a hard time differentiating between programmes, I recommend engaging with current students and alumni to understand better what makes each program unique.”

Applicants should have discussions with several representatives of the school, wherever possible. These representatives include admissions officers, current students, alumni that have preferably graduated in the past five years so they can speak to the current state of the programme and faculty. School representatives can provide insightful tips about the programme and their experiences. “Where relevant, incorporate those insights into the written application,” Berishaj says.

Finally, applicants should only apply when they feel their application, especially in their written materials, captures their values, character, and mission. These elements are typically reflected in essays, resume, and short answers questions. Berishaj recommends that applicants pay close attention to the wording and tone employed in their applications.

Finally, if you seek a top-quality education, then you are expected to submit a top-quality application. Even if there are weaknesses in your application profile, the persuasiveness with which you share your narrative matters.