For those of you thinking about applying to b-school next fall, it is time to assess your qualifications and research schools to determine the best fit. Some of you will find that you have the academic stats, but fear you fall short in terms of community service, an important factor at the most competitive business schools and a major means of differentiating yourself when you come from a crowded cohort in the applicant pool. To understand what community service is and its importance, please see “Why is Community Service So Important.”
In a presentation I gave at a major management consulting firm, I was asked the following about community service:
- Is it a requirement at the top b-schools?
- If I haven’t volunteered since graduating college because I am working a gazillion hours, would it even help me to start now? Wouldn’t the adcoms see my community service as a ploy?
- If you come from a country like the US where community service is encouraged, then service is almost mandatory at the top schools. Remember, community service has a broad definition, but some form of community service is important to your application’s success.
- Many people applying to top MBA programs work a gazillion hours. And the most successful ones apply with some kind of community service. They are your competition. If you don’t have it, start it. While yes, it would be better if you had a track record going back to college, you can’t go back in time. You can only start NOW. Furthermore, you can’t be positive you will be accepted in the 2011-12 application cycle. If you start volunteering now and either postpone your application, or need to reapply, you will have a track record when you need it.
For more tips on steps you can take now to improve your chances next fall, please join us for 2012 MBA Applicants: Start Your Engines, a free webinar.