Tips From Carlson School’s Admissions Team
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
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The application process for an MBA or master's program can, at times, seem overwhelming. When applying to the Carlson School, what stands out in an application, and what should you avoid?
The admissions teams from the Carlson School’s MBA and specialty master’s programs offer some of their top tips to help set your application apart from the rest.
What are your tips for a successful application?
Do your research. Set aside some time to get to know our specific programs better, through any combination of browsing our program websites, attending information sessions, talking to current students and alumni, and connecting through email or requesting a meeting with our admissions staff. Understanding our programs' offerings and outcomes can help you better determine your fit and tailor your application materials.
Know your goals. Consider what you desire out of a graduate program and how it will connect to your future career goals. Consider the specifics of what you want for your future self. Even if you aren't 100 percent certain what role you desire or which companies to apply to, have an idea of the types of jobs students typically land after graduation, and be sure that aligns with your hopes for the future. You might do this, for example, by browsing our programs' employment reports, reaching out to alumni, or requesting informational interviews with people who currently work in the industries, roles, or companies that interest you. Once you have some goals in mind, consider how the program you are applying to will lead you in that direction.
Be specific in your materials. For our programs that require a personal statement or interview, let us know your history and why you’re applying to the Carlson School specifically. Some programs require technical skills, such as the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program. In that case, be sure to mention applicable software, tools, programming languages, and methods used within each job or experience you list. Don't simply name tools or competencies at the top or bottom of your resume. Instead, include details of how you used them throughout your resume.
What makes an application stand out?
Make sure your application is complete. The best applications are well-researched, well-considered applications that are carefully targeted toward a specific program. It is important to our programs and admissions committees that you are a strong fit for our programs—that you understand what our programs offer and that your goals align with what we can provide for you. Program fit is clearest when you show you have researched our programs and carefully considered how the curriculum and services we provide will help you reach your goals.
Follow the instructions. A good application also follows the instructions provided, rather than simply copying and pasting from another program's application, whose format may be very different. If you are unsure whether you meet the specific eligibility requirements of a program, or have questions about any sections of the application, feel free to reach out anytime to admissions staff. We are here and happy to help.
Tell your story. Every applicant and every application is different. Even if you don’t have much work experience or a business undergraduate degree, you can still show us you’re a good fit for our program. Demonstrate that you’ve really thought about getting a master’s degree and how your skills fit into the program and your future career goals.
What should applicants avoid?
Avoid waiting until the last minute. The Carlson School requires all materials be complete and received by us before your chosen application deadline to be considered and we do not offer conditional admission for any missing pieces. Leave a comfortable amount of time to study for and take exams, for official scores to arrive, to deal with any unforeseen technical issues, and to reach out to our admissions staff with any questions or concerns. We encourage students to target our earliest admission rounds when we have the most space and the most scholarship money available. If you wait, the process can become more competitive with how much space we have left and the scholarship offers we can make.
Avoid not reviewing your materials. Be sure to pay close attention to your application, follow all directions, and proofread your materials. Things such as calling the school the Carlson School of Business instead of the Carlson School of Management can leave a lasting impression. It’s important to look things over and have attention to detail.
Not doing your homework. Lastly, it can be a mistake not to come to one of our information sessions or meet with someone from our admissions team. Our staff can help coach you on what parts of your background are best to highlight. Along with that, attending an information session can give you insights into Carlson School programs that you can’t see on the website or in a brochure.
Do you have advice for someone who feels a particular part of their application isn't very strong (test scores, undergrad GPA, etc.)?
The Carlson School takes a holistic approach to applications. Rest assured that your admission doesn’t hinge on just one thing. If you don’t have the strongest GMAT score or GPA, you can still make your case through evidence from your work experience, personal statement, or other admissions materials.
Everyone is different. Do consider our current student profiles before applying to understand what is competitive for admission; however, do not worry if you are below our averages in one particular area. For example, a strong GPA and strong performance in quantitative and technical courses can make up for lower standardized testing scores. A strong resume with relevant experience and details showing the context of relevant tools, skills, and methods used can greatly boost an application. We are not looking for perfect applications. Rather, we want applicants who will succeed in our rigorous programs and beyond. When in doubt, always feel free to reach out to our admissions staff to ask