This week we’re focusing on insider tips for another top-ranked European business school – London Business School (LBS). It’s hard to believe that until the mid 1980s, middle management from the Commonwealth had a free ride for their business education at LBS. It seems it was mostly French and U.S. students who bore the total cost. But just as London has become one of the world’s great cities, so the London Business School has transformed into one of the world’s finest business schools. And tuition for the 2-year MBA program – an exception in the European market – has been transformed too!
A top center of teaching and research, the school’s MBA program often ranks #1 in Europe, and is seen as the international alternative to the finance-focused business schools of the US. Blue-chip firms from consultancy to finance to industry fight to recruit 400 graduates every year, for placement in positions not only in the UK and Europe, but also in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The culture and economy of London are at the heart of the LBS experience, and the student body reflects such a cosmopolitan city with over 65 nationalities in the MBA classroom.
Fortuna’s Emma Bond, a former gatekeeper in LBS Admissions, shares her insightful tips for applying to LBS:
LBS Tip #1 – Conveying your passion for LBS
London Business School is one of the leading business schools in Europe, located close to the heart of the London financial market and broader European economy. It competes with INSEAD as well as with US schools such as Wharton, Columbia, Harvard and Chicago Booth. In this competitive environment, Admissions is constantly looking for evidence of your commitment to the school. Try to visit LBS before you submit your application and attend an admissions event. In addition to monthly London Information Sessions, you can also attend a ‘drop-in’ session each week or book in to take part in a class. All of these opportunities give you invaluable time with current students and staff – this will help you decide if the school is truly right for you. If you manage to speak with one of the admissions team, it may get you on their radar as a strong candidate, and it means you can include your visit on the application form, which in turn helps reinforce your commitment to the school. If you can’t visit campus, attend one of the many Information Sessions LBS holds in different countries around the world.
LBS Tip #2 – Overcoming a lower than average GPA
Like all top schools, LBS is looking for smart candidates who can handle rigorous coursework. Your previous academics are definitely relevant and a strong GPA and good undergraduate degree are important. But LBS also prides itself on a really diverse and well-rounded class, so the Admissions Committee looks carefully at the whole person by considering work experience, essays and references, not just the key numbers. If you have a good reason for your lower GPA, make sure you get that across in the optional essay. If you have other skills/professional qualifications that can help demonstrate your academic potential, make those known. And, importantly, if you have a low GPA you should ensure you prepare adequately for the GMAT; the score you achieve and submit will be that much more significant in the final decision and can mitigate the risk presented by lower grades.
LBS Tip #3 – When to apply
It’s definitely preferable to apply for R1 or R2. While European business schools have a more even distribution of places across the different rounds compared to the top US schools, LBS often uses R4 to complete its class with the desired number of UK candidates. By rounds 3 and 4 there are far fewer spots left, most having been dished out to the strong, well-prepared candidates who applied in Rounds 1 and 2. In addition, if you wait until later rounds you will also be running up against waitlisted candidates from earlier rounds – the waitlist is reviewed regularly throughout the year and then again before each admission offer point. That said, there is always room for stellar candidates so if you come to the MBA decision late in the application year, LBS can be a good option when others have already filled their class lists.