Fortuna Admissions’ Caroline Diarte Edwards was the Director of MBA Admissions at INSEAD for seven years. Below she shares her top insider tips for applying to INSEAD.
INSEAD top 10 insider admissions tip #1 – Do I have a chance of admission with little international experience?
INSEAD is proud of the international diversity of its MBA program: both with regards to the variety of nationalities represented, and the international experience of students in the program. However, there are students in the program without a lot of international work experience. In general, those who are admitted without experience in other countries are often from emerging markets and some did not have the financial means to travel. These students successfully demonstrate that they have the ability to fit in well in an incredibly diverse environment (qualities such as being open-minded, flexible, curious about other cultures, and having good interpersonal skills – all of these elements help). In addition, they also communicated why they need to join such a diverse, international community – that it will be extremely important for their future career plans. For anyone who has never travelled abroad, or who doesn’t have an interest in business beyond his or her own national border – they should think twice before applying.
INSEAD top 10 insider admissions tip #2 – Should I avoid applying in Round 3?
A number of schools discourage candidates from waiting until the final round to apply. INSEAD, however, takes steps to keep the level of competition fair across all rounds. The rationale for this is they want the best of the entire pool, and don’t want to reject someone in the last round who would have been admitted in an earlier round (or admit an applicant in round 1 who would be rejected in round 3). They are able to achieve this by making informed guestimates of expected application volume by round. They also use the waitlist for borderline candidates. If you feel that you will have a better prepared application for round 3 than in an earlier round when your application would be rushed, then it’s advisable to apply later on. However, be aware that if actual application volume for round 3 is higher than predicted, the level of competition could be steeper. You should also know that if you hope to get a scholarship, there are more scholarship options available for round 1 and 2 candidates than round 3 candidates. Last, be aware that the earlier you apply and are admitted, the more time you have to get ready and to plan your move to campus.
INSEAD top 10 insider admissions tip #3 – How flexible is INSEAD on the GMAT?
While the average GMAT at INSEAD is 702, the range is typically around 600 to 800. INSEAD advises candidates to target the 75th percentile on both the verbal and the quant; they look more at this breakdown than at the total score. If you get less than 70th percentile on either part of the test, you better have a very strong academic track record, and/or have a profile that the school loves. So INSEAD is perhaps not as flexible as some top schools as regards the GMAT – this is largely because it is a one year program, so the pace is fast, and the school really needs to be sure you have the academic smarts to keep up. And although many love to hate the GMAT, it is actually a fairly good predictor of academic performance on the INSEAD program.