Tips to Get into a Top Graduate School

Hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of fresh bachelors all over the world have a dream about top careers and top jobs. For many of them, graduate school is the critical stopover on the road towards the desired career. As director of institutional development and student recruitment of SP Jain, business school with Forbes top 20-ranked MBA programs, I am meeting hundreds of students from all continents with such aspirations (by now, students from more than 70 countries passed through SP Jain campuses in Sydney, Dubai, Singapore, and Mumbai). Let me share some personal thoughts:

1: Explore the opportunities:

Visit the graduate school websites. Check available profiles and programs and do not use only the first page of Google Search in your decision-making process: some gems are still hidden. Follow the specialized rankings – for example, applied business rankings, such as Forbes or Financial Times, sometimes reveal more than pure academic rankings. At the end of the day, most of the candidates will go to the hard-core corporate life and not in the field of academic research. Ask students and alumni about their experiences. Visit specialized portals to look for possible scholarship opportunities. Be proactive and approach the admissions teams: we love discussing our programs with the candidates. Finally, check the positions and salaries of the graduate school alumni: their placements show real quality of the graduate school.

2: There are no tricks:

To get accepted into the top graduate school, only your performance will matter. You will pass through a rigorous evaluation process, including testing, interview, and most likely business case. Your knowledge and skills are the keys: if you do not perform well at the test, you will not be selected to go to the next stage. If you do not demonstrate competencies and skills through the interview and business case, it is unlikely you will get an offer letter. Thus, just get adequately prepared and prove you are competent, capable, and committed.

3: Ask about your future skills, not about your future jobs:

Yes, attending top graduate school will change both your career and your thought process. It will bring you new exposures, new experiences, and new knowledge. However, the graduate school cannot educate for the past: if it is proper graduate school, it will empower you with the skillset for the future. We cannot even imagine what professions and specializations will exist in 10 years. However, critical thinking, business intelligence, creative thinking, teamwork, effective communication will never become obsolete. Moreover, imparting real-world skills makes us future-ready. Any faculty or staff member from top graduate school will be amazed if you ask how this graduate program will empower you with the skills of the future. If the interviewer does not provide a clear answer, it is questionable if that school, whatever brand it carries, is a top graduate school.

4: Do not pretend:

Be what you are. Typically, interviewers from top graduate schools are trained to recognize the non-verbal signals you are sending. Any exaggerations, lies, white lies or pretends will undoubtedly be recognized. Just show the best possible version of yourself and demonstrate you have what it takes to be successful: leadership, engagement, passion, vision, future thinking, orientation towards results.

5: Show commitment:

The future requires committed people who are ready to adapt, develop, and learn throughout the entire life. At the same time, the corporate world needs result-oriented managers who are reliable and passionate. Any top graduate school will do its best to attract such candidates: they are very likely to be successful at their graduate studies pathway, and they are very likely to be good brand ambassadors of the graduate school in the future times. Our goal is to educate and empower the people who want to use their skills to go to the higher level and to become global leaders of the future: commitment is a necessary precondition for leadership.

At the end: your motivation must be intrinsic. Don`t allow yourself to be driven by money, parental pressure, or social expectations. If you want to pursue top graduate education, you should motivate yourself on your own. It will certainly be positive for you. Good luck!

This article was first published in Edarabia in October 2018.

About the author MARKO SELAKOVIĆ

Marko Selakovic

Mr. Marko Selaković is Director – Institutional Development & Student Recruitment at SP Jain School of Global Management. He is a strategic management and communications professional with more than 15 years of top-level experience in Europe and the Gulf countries. Marko is specialized in knowledge management, international communications, stakeholder relations and crisis communications. He is also representative of Knowledge Economy Network for the Middle East and Vice-president of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) GCC Chapter. Marko is author or co-author of numerous research papers related to the future of learning and strategic communications.


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