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How Graduate Business School Admissions Teams Are Attracting Non-Traditional Applicants

Posted by Graduate Management Admission Council

Posted on Jan 2, 2020 1:00:00 PM

Attracting applicants with non-traditional backgrounds is important for graduate business school admissions. Here’s why that is and how to do it effectively.

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Graduate management education is changing and is no longer exclusively for those with a business background. Instead, business schools are seeking candidates who come from non-traditional (i.e., non-business) backgrounds. Part of this push is because businesses are looking to attract a more diverse workforce, and business schools play a big role in helping them do so.

By increasing diversity, business schools position themselves at the forefront of innovation. Here are a few ways they’re attracting non-traditional applicants.

Focusing on transferrable skills for graduate business school admissions

Some skills matter in almost any industry, such as leadership, team building, and the ability to stay organized. These are the skills that business schools want to see in candidates regardless of their background, and applicants from non-traditional backgrounds may be proficient in these skills. A person with a military background, for example, may have a deep appreciation for the value of collaboration, which can transfer well to the business world.

Even skills that seem specific to one field can be valuable in other industries. For example, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina got her undergraduate degree in Medieval History and Philosophy, which would sound like a world away from Silicon Valley. However, she points out that “I learned how to condense a … lot of information down to the essence. That thought process has served me my whole life.” Likewise, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner studied English Literature and Theater and says that, “Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick.” The lesson for graduate business school admissions officials is that while candidates with strong business backgrounds are valuable to an EMBA, it’s necessary to also be on the lookout for candidates who may have a less traditional background that could help add new perspectives and insights.

Wondering how you can attract top talent to your school? Check out 3 Ways an Executive MBA Exam Helps Business Schools Find Their Dream Students

The Executive Assessment can help entice non-traditional candidates

For applicants who lack a strong business background, test scores are especially important to prove they can handle the quantitative aspect of the program. However, tests that take months to prepare for and hours to sit through may intimidate potential applicants who are already apprehensive about whether or not they will fit in at business school. A shorter test that requires minimal preparation, like the Executive Assessment, is more approachable for someone who doesn’t have an extensive business background. Such an assessment still provides business schools with the assurances that a candidate will thrive academically. The test can also help identify areas of weakness that may need improvement before enrollment.

Scholarships are another way that schools can help attract applicants who may not have business backgrounds, and therefore may not have their employers’ financial backing to attend an EMBA. Scholarships targeted towards certain backgrounds, such as those who have worked in the non-profit sector or who have taught in underserved areas, can make business school more viable for those who may otherwise lack the funds to attend.

Wondering how to attract the best candidates to your Executive MBA programs?

The Executive Assessment can help.

Topics: GMAC Assessments, Executive Assessment

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