For some professional couples, the realisation arises that pursuing an MBA is the key to exploring new career routes and accessing a wide range of high-quality professional opportunities. The MBA admissions process is difficult enough for one person, but couples must consider additional factors as they figure out their priorities and application strategy.
Finding an MBA program that suits your goals in terms of learning style, environment, size, and other factors must also take into account with your partner’s preferences – and this is one of the most difficult aspects of applying to business school together. You’ll need to develop a list of target programs where both of you will be happy to study to avoid any unwelcome compromises or resentments that could harm your relationship.
Here are some tips that will help you and your partner through the application process and build your career path together.
When it comes to test scores, leadership experiences, career history, or extracurricular interests, no two applicants – even couples – are alike. Make sure each application is competitive and can stand on its own merit at the schools you wish to target before applying to b-school because the strength of one candidate will not compensate for an unqualified partner.
Couples can broaden their possibilities by focusing on cities or regions where both would thrive, in addition to applying to the same set of schools. Consider applying to schools in the same area.
For example, you could apply to New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Columbia University’s Business School, or the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in nearby Philadelphia, or Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business or the University of California— Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in the Bay Area. Other Boston-area options include Harvard Business School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, as well as Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management and the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business in Chicago.
For couples considering this option, applying to identical schools in Round 1 and then expanding to adjacent schools in Round 2 as a backup plan is a smart strategy. Take the time to visit each school and engage with existing married or partnered students who may provide critical insight into their personal application experiences and give you a better idea of how accepting the school is to joint applications.
It may go without saying, but you should both apply in the same round, since this will make your decision much easier once you know if you both got in.
Also, if at all possible, apply in the first round to give yourself some wiggle room if necessary. The MBA application process can be time-consuming, and if two people are balancing full-time jobs, test prep, and essay writing, one of you may be suffering and want additional time to put together the best possible application.
Staggering your MBA enrollment is a different method for couples who know the location or city they ultimately wish to work in. While one person works, the other attends business school and then enrols in an MBA program after the partner has graduated.
Not just number crunchers, but empathetic human beings make up the admissions committee. The admissions committee will normally aim to keep couples together if both applicants are qualified to enrol and are a suitable match for the program.
Some schools specifically ask if you’re applying with a partner on the application, but even if they don’t, it’s vital to communicate that information with the admissions committee, especially if one applicant’s rejection means the partner won’t be able to go if approved. The additional essay should be used by both you and your partner to explain that you’re part of a package deal.
Make your intentions for a joint application known to the admissions office as soon as possible. Touch base with representatives when attending events on the road or on campus to describe your circumstances and show why you and your partner would be a good fit for their program.
When it comes to admissions decisions, your relationship status will almost certainly come into play if the admissions committee is undecided about one of you. If the school believes one candidate is exceptional and knows that he or she will only go if the partner is also accepted, both applicants are likely to offer admission.
One of the best things about attending business school as a couple is experiencing each other’s growth in this unique atmosphere and taking satisfaction in one other’s accomplishments.
Going to business school with your partner may turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made for both your career and personal life, from the support you can give each other during the application process to coming home at the end of each day during the degree process to share and debate your respective classroom experiences.
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