Non-traditional context: enrolling in a business school

Finance and technology are typical backgrounds for many MBA applicants. For applicants with non-traditional backgrounds, like acting or teaching, starting business school can seem daunting.

Jennifer Jackson, Senior MBA Admissions Advisor at Stratus Admission Board, recently discussed how applicants with non-traditional backgrounds should approach their application to MBA programs and how they might even have an advantage.


Even if you apply to an MBA program with nontraditional education, says Jackson, you can still highlight a number of skills that translate into business school.

“Consider the skills you’ve learned in the roles you’ve had since college and figure out how to highlight them in the most compelling way possible,” Jackson writes. “It is highly likely that while these skills may not seem directly applicable to an MBA program, they are still useful and necessary, such as collaboration and project management skills. “


MBA admission essays will typically include prompts asking applicants why they want to pursue an MBA. Jackson says it’s important to align applicable skills with your career goals when writing your essay.

“For example, let’s say you are currently working in a government health agency but want to move into health care consulting or a biotech organization, and maybe in the long run, be a leader in health. or start your own business, ”writes Jackson. “You can demonstrate that you need the leadership skills, cross-functional business skills, and entrepreneurship skills that only an MBA can offer to make this pivot. “


Non-traditional applicants can often feel at a disadvantage in admissions. However, experts say applicants who don’t fit the mold of a typical MBA student are exactly the type of applicants b-schools seek to attract.

“Business schools actively seek to create dynamic classes made up of individuals who bring something different to the table,” Padya Paramita, graduate coach at InGenius preparation, writing. “They look for people with diverse personal and professional backgrounds to keep class discussions engaging and interesting. Being a non-traditional candidate can really be a positive at a time when admissions officers are making a concerted effort to admit people with varied backgrounds.

Sources: Stratus Admission Board, InGenius preparation

Next page: Tips for Kelley MBA Essays

Indiana University Kelley School of Business

TO Indiana University Kelley School of Business, a supportive career and leadership development are at the heart of the MBA experience. Kelley students receive a variety of resources, from personalized coaching to leadership training, to help them achieve their goals. There is even a tradition called “Kelley applauds», A small but symbolic practice that demonstrates the sense of support that School B instills in its culture.

For applicants wishing to attend the Kelley School of Business, passing the admission tests is essential. Stacy Blackman, Founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed the 2021-2022 Kelley MBA writing prompts and key aspects applicants should focus on.


The first Kelley essay prompt asks applicants the following:

Discuss your immediate professional goals after the MBA. How will your professional experience, combined with a Kelley MBA, enable you to achieve these goals? If the short-term goals you identified don’t materialize, what other career paths could you consider? (500 words)

As the first try approaches, Blackman says, it’s best to focus on the most critical moments in your career.

“Consider the times when you had to stretch to achieve the goals set for you,” writes Blackman. “Maybe it happened when you became a leader or became introspective about your career aspirations. These are the stories that will tell you how your professional experience will help you achieve your goals.

To answer the second part of the prompt, Blackman suggests thinking about what goals are essential for you and how you can flexibly achieve them.

“For example, maybe you are passionate about the food industry and want to update the world of packaged goods,” writes Blackman. “However, you can imagine playing a strategic or financial role in consumer packaged goods. Or, you love marketing, but you could imagine yourself marketing a movie or a jewelry line. In this case, the most crucial factor is the practice of the marketing profession. Showing that you can pivot while staying true to your core values ​​and interests will position you well in this Kelley School of Business Essay Set.


The second Kelley essay prompt asks applicants the following:

Please respond to one of the following brief editorial prompts. (300 words)

My best memory is …

I’m most afraid of …

My biggest challenge was …

I am most proud of …

The second essay gives applicants a sense of who you are central to who you are.

“In this essay, the story you choose to tell will reveal your personality and values ​​to the admissions committee,” Blackman writes. “Therefore, think about the times in your life when you have changed or matured. Was there an experience that led you to learn more about yourself? Or maybe you’ve interacted with someone who challenged or inspired you.

Regardless of when you choose to write, says Blackman, it’s important to highlight the “why” aspect in your essay.

“Once you have a story to tell, be sure to explain why this moment is important to you,” Blackman writes. “To clarify, you can relate your thoughts, reactions and opinions as you tell the story. Another idea is to take time at the end of the essay to reflect on what you have learned and why it is. was important.


The third Kelley essay prompt asks applicants the following:

Share a brief fact about yourself that your classmates would find interesting, surprising, or remarkable. (25 words)

This essay, says Blackman, aims to highlight things about your story that the admissions officer can’t get from the demographics or background of your application.

“This is a great question for surveying friends and family,” writes Blackman. “Because your friends and family are probably familiar with elements of your past and who you are, it can be an effective way to develop a unique story. These elements are more in-depth than your CV or your application information sheet.

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q

Next page: Increase GMAT verbal scores

If you want to have a chance of getting admitted to a big B school, you should aim to achieve a GMAT score in the 700s. For comparison, the average GMAT score for the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is 733.

The GMAT is organized into two sections: a Quant section and a Verbal section. Performing well in both is essential for achieving a higher total score and B schools often like to see a balance in performance between the two sections. Marty Murray, Chief Program and Content Architect for Target test preparation, recently offered some tips on how applicants can score high in the verbal section of the GMAT in an article for Fortuna Admissions.


The GMAT Verbal section has a strong focus on analysis and critical thinking with questions on sentence correction and reading comprehension. The best approach to prepare for the verbal section, Murray says, is to go subject by subject in order to master the concepts.

“So for sentence correction, work on one concept at a time, starting with basic concepts, such as types of clauses, and then moving on to more complex topics, such as modifiers and comparisons,” writes Murray. “For critical reasoning, it’s best to work on one type of question at a time. Likewise, reading comprehension involves a number of concepts and question types that you can effectively learn and master one at a time.

But knowing the concepts is only one aspect to perform well in the verbal section.

To score high, Murray says, applicants need more than just understanding the concepts.

“While knowledge of concepts is certainly a key aspect of getting a good verbal GMAT score, to master the verbal section of GMAT you need to not only learn concepts, but also develop skills to notice what is happening in them. questions and use logic to come up with the right answers, ”Murray writes.


A solid strategy is the key to improving your GMAT score. Experts say having a game plan for common test roadblocks can help ensure you’re ready on exam day.

One of the best strategies, highlighted by Princeton Review, is to limit the number of times you refer to a passage in the Verbal section.

“Assuming you’ve referenced the passage before looking at the answer choices – always a good practice – just come back one more time,” according to Princeton Review. “If you find the information that helps you decide which answer is correct, you can choose an answer. If you haven’t, change gears. Try to find something that makes any of the answers wrong. Does any of the answers use extreme language? This could be a great reason for choosing the other answer.

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, P&Q, Princeton Review

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