What Top Undergraduate Business Schools look for in an applicant?

–Boost your financial IQ and get the attention of admissions committees–

GPA is still the King
Your GPA is a good indicator for undergraduate business schools to determine whether or not you can handle the challenging curriculum the school offers. Most admissions committees will put strong emphasis on your performance in mathematics courses. Since many business courses are heavily math based (Accounting, Finance, to name a few), having a strong math background is necessary. They also seek applicants who are competent in reading comprehension which demonstrates analytical and critical thinking skills. In addition, achieving proficiency in written English is crucial. Top schools want applicants who can write well and concisely.

Good Standardized Test Scores
Even though a high test score does not guarantee admission, it can definitely make an application more competitive. Scores are used to determine an applicant’s ability to problem solve in math, read critically, and communicate effectively through writing. SAT scores for business and engineering applicants tend to be slightly higher than they are among other program applicants. Thus, it is important for you to put in time and effort to prepare for your SAT.

Leadership Potential
Top undergraduate business schools seek applicants who demonstrate leadership potential. Many high school students tend to include everything they have done in leadership roles on their applications. However, it is crucial to know that admission committees not only focus on experience, but also want to see that an applicant has the potential to lead a group and help others accomplish a goal. The areas that show your leadership potential are your extracurricular activities, essay and interview.

The ability to Communicate
In the business world, the ability to communicate is essential. Admission committees judge your ability to effectively communicate by looking at your essay and interview.

· The Essay:
Besides being an indicator of writing proficiency, the application essay is a tool students must use to bring their applications to life. The essays give the applicants a chance to showcase their strengths (leadership ability, intelligence, professionalism, confidence, critical reasoning) beyond simply their GPA and scores. Good essays can humanize an application and give you an edge in the competition for acceptance at the school of your choice.

· The Interview:
Through an interview, a school can assess your ability to communicate verbally and effectively. Also, it is a chance for you to demonstrate your ambition to excel in an undergraduate business program. To prepare for an interview, you further need to enrich your familiarity with business concepts by becoming familiar with current events in the business world. A good way to accumulate such knowledge is to read magazines such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Business week, and Fortune on preferably a weekly basis, familiarizing yourself with current events in business so as to be able to incorporate such concepts and information into your answers to interview questions.

More high school students are seeing the benefits of getting a business degree in college. This has led to a competitive admissions process among undergraduate business schools. However, you should not let the competition stop you from pursuing a business degree if that is your passion. Success in the application process comes down to how early and how well you prepare yourself to face this challenge.

Written by Ms. Tseng, ACI San Marino Director, on April 11, 2014

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