By Karen Keller
In 2006, the average starting salary for business school grads was $96,000, according to The National Association of Colleges and Employers . Two-thirds of jobs offered to MBAs in the same year came with
signing bonuses that averaged $17,603. But before you start hitting up your parents for tuition money, remember that most applicants have at least two years worth of work experience. At Harvard, that number is closer to four. And then there’s the thorny issue of the GMAT. Either way, you’ll need to do a lot of work both inside the office and out before you even think about applying.
Scoring a Fat Chance Acceptance Package
Business school acceptance is based on the following five categories, with the GMAT score and work experience weighing heavier than the rest.
A score of 650 is competitive for the Top 20 schools. A 700 is really competitive. Anywhere below a 600 and your uncle better be on the board of that top school. Check out this list of average GMAT scores for top Business schools, and be sure to take a prep course from a company such as Manhattan GMAT . (Full disclosure: Manhattan GMAT is the publisher of our book, but we were only willing to enter into a relationship with them because we think they provide best-in-class test prep services.) For more information on test prep, see our guide on studying for the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT .
On the GMAT, the math section is typically weighed more than the verbal section. Check out what the mid-80% range GMAT score is at your potential schools by checking their website or calling the admissions office. For example, the UPenn Wharton School of Business class of 2006 average GMAT score was 713, while UCLA’s Anderson School of Management average was a 661.
This is a test Gradspot recommends post!
Secret tip: Find out whether you have a medical condition that qualifies you to take the GMAT under non-standard accommodations . This gives you more time to take the test, which is known to raise test scores. Plus you get a trackball mouse.
Finance and consulting backgrounds are golden for potential candidates. Think “big 4” consulting firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, KPMG, Ernst & Young) or investment banks. However, since admissions people strive to assemble a diverse student body, those with less traditional work experiences can have a major competitive edge. Non-profits, in particular, seem to be a favorite of MBA admissions people. In turn, intriguing work experience can make up for a mediocre GMAT score. In rare circumstances, you may be able to get in with only a year or two of work experience, but all of the other aspects of the application must be immaculate.
Recommendation Letters (2-3)
Best to get them from current employers and clients. Ask a college professor only if you’re certain the letter will be stellar. If the person writing the rec isn’t a good writer, then write t...