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Jun 1, 2021

How to ace your MBA application - from the people who actually read them

There are many reasons to pursue an MBA from Gies College of Business, whether you’re simply looking to brush up your business skills or connect with other aspiring corporate leaders on their way to the top. At Illinois Gies, the fully online iMBA is a quality, flexible, and affordable option that consistently earns top marks. No matter your end goal, your journey starts with a successful application. So, we spoke with our admissions team to find out everything you need to do to set the stage for an application that sets you apart.

Perfecting the personal statement

The bad news is this part involves an essay. But the good news is that it provides a place to shine. Your personal statement is a great place to address any weaknesses in your application, such as a low undergraduate GPA, by owning your past and being forthright about the reasons. According to the admissions officers we talked to, the important thing here is to fully answer all the prompts and personalize your responses to the program you’re applying for. Don’t just rehash your resume. Clearly articulate your goals and do your best to make a connection between who you are and the program you hope to pursue.

Reining in your resume

Brevity is the soul of wit — and it’s also a good way to score points with your admission reviewer. Remember, a technical resume is not necessary, and whatever you do provide, keep it short — one to two pages max. Remember that formatting is also important. Worry less about making it flashy and more about making it easy to read. If you can do that, you’re golden.

Acing the Interview

For this part, good preparation is key. Be ready with your own questions to ask, and do your homework. Asking basic questions about things you could have learned from the website will not reflect well on you. And if it’s a virtual interview, make sure that your internet connection is strong and you’re in a quiet place, free from distractions.

Check for typos

Nothing screams “reject me now” louder than an application full of typos. Use consistent punctuation. Watch your grammar. And if you refer to a company or organization, make sure you get the spelling right — especially if it’s the program you’re applying to. Also, remember that spellcheck is your friend — until it isn’t. Don’t rely on a computer to catch mistakes you could have caught on your own with a simple review.

And finally, don’t sell yourself short.

Every year at Gies Business, people apply for the Performance-Based Admissions Track (PAT) because it seems like a safer route than applying directly to the MBA. The PAT is a great program developed for students who have some part of their application that may make them less competitive, and if it’s the right option for you, by all means apply. But don’t sell yourself short. Admissions officers at Illinois review all the applications for both programs and will suggest which one is appropriate for you. So if your heart is set on an Illinois MBA, go for it. You might just open the door that opens a whole new world.