However, it is very healthy to know from the start that the MBA scholarships are for the top MBA applicants. They are for those who a business school really wants to have on their incoming class as well as in their alumni list. Scholarships are provided for merit only and on a highly competitive basis. The only thing you can control in a competitive environment is your own performance. So, focus on it.
How to position yourself in the pool of scholarship recipient’s prospects
1. Be an outstanding applicant for the particular program
Step 1. Select your MBA programs very carefully in order to increase your chances for admission, without compromising on the match of the program to your goals and potential. Which MBA you will apply to directly affects your success.
Step 2. Prepare a really outstanding application and submit it early before the deadline. The elements which are a must for a strong application are:
- A high GMAT score – definitely above the average for the program.
- An application package which reveals a perfect match between your goals and the focus of the particular MBA program.
- In addition, your application must reveal your unique potential to contribute to the MBA class and to the image of the program with your targeted post MBA success.
2. Prepare your scholarship application
Step 1. Before you start working on your MBA application package, carefully study all types of scholarships and identify those which are a fit for your strengths. Highlight these strengths in the application package.
Step 2. Prepare well for any additional scholarship requirements, i.e. scholarship essays, projects, features of your profile.
A ‘guaranteed scholarship policy’ means that you will automatically receive a scholarship if you meet some requirement – i.e. admission and a GMAT score above a certain minimum. This kind of scholarships is very attractive because applicants can easily set their target and evaluate their chances.
Merit-based competitive scholarships
This is the majority of the scholarships. However, it is usually complicated for the applicants to evaluate their chances in advance, because the criteria are difficult to interpret without comparison to the rest of the application pool. Usually, in order to qualify for these scholarships, applicants need to provide evidence of leadership potential and academic excellence. The application process may or may not require additional materials, i.e. scholarships essays, projects, etc. It is important they these scholarships are a tool for the business schools to attract the really best applicants to actually enroll in their program. They are also a tool to attract a large number of MBA applicants.
Targeted competitive scholarships
There is a huge diversity of this kind of MBA scholarships. They are targeted to applicants with a particular profile which the school would like to have in their class because of the school development strategy. These scholarships may target specific regions, positions, skills or achievements. In all cases, they are competitive, meaning that the applicants first need to meet all admission requirements, and then will be competing against all other applicants in same category. This is usually better than having to compete against the whole application pool.
Dos and Don’ts
Don’t fall into the trap of just going after the scholarships. Don’t neglect the match of the MBA program to your goals, just because of a scholarship. Even if you will be investing less of your own money, you will still be investing all of your own time into the MBA, and it will be worthwhile only if the program meets your career objectives.
Do plan a realistic budget for your MBA – tuition and fees, living expenses, travel, and additional costs. Scholarships only help you finance the MBA by partially reducing the costs, even in case you are good enough to win a full-tuition scholarship.