Our Insider Tips on Applying to Ten Top Schools – Chicago Booth

September 02, 2014 | by Matt Symonds

Next up on our Fortuna Admissions series of insider tips for applying to ten top schools is Chicago Booth. This highly ranked program (#1 in BusinessWeek and The Economist and #2 by Forbes) is known for its academic rigor, focus on innovation, and strong research orientation.

Booth is not for everyone and the Admissions team is looking for applicants who are academically curious, challenge the status quo and like solving complex problems. Booth students constantly look for new ideas and ways to solve problems in the business world and classroom discussions are filled with lively debates and discussions. Those who love this kind of environment will thrive at Booth and have a transformative b-school experience.

Fortuna’s Julie Ferguson, former Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth, has a few top tips to share around applying to Booth and the b-school experience.

Tip #1 – When to apply to Booth

It’s important to be strategic about which application cycle to pursue. With three application rounds (September, January, and April) at Booth, as with many schools, earlier is not necessarily better. The Admissions Committee knows it will see great profiles in the first and second round so the school does not need to fill all places for consultants, bankers and software engineers in round 1, but will use the waitlist with discretion to be able to consider everybody applying in round 2. So you’re better off waiting for the 2nd round if that means you’ll have a more complete, well-though out application or are able to complete a particularly impressive project, secure a promotion, or provide examples for your recommender to use. The reality is that there are very few places left by round 3, but even the Admissions Committee recognizes that there will be a handful of strong applicants applying in the final round for whom places will be available. But the numbers game works against you at this stage so plan ahead and shoot for September or January to maximize your chances.

Tip #2 – Highlight your individuality

Every year hundreds of applications pour in from people with consulting, finance and accounting backgrounds. Current full-time class stats show that most students enter the program from a business, economics, and engineering undergrad background. Chicago Booth looks to create a well-rounded, diverse, and unique class. Make this work in your favor, whether your background is “typical” or not. If you do come from a classic background, tailor your application to highlight what makes you different from everyone else in your industry (perhaps you work as an accountant for a non-profit organization). If, for example, you have a marketing/advertising or social sciences background, this will place well into creating a more diverse academic environment for the whole. You will want to emphasize the fact that you will bring something unique to the discussion, in and out of the classroom.

Tip #3 – It’s not all about economics

There’s a common perception that Chicago Booth is the “econ” school. Just like you, Booth does not want to be seen as being good at just one thing. The full-time MBA program provides a flexible curriculum, where students are expected to design their own academic experience. Even if your concentration lies in economics and the world of finance, you should be well-versed on what other academic concentrations are available. Know who the key professors are in each academic department and some of the key published academic research. Familiarize yourself with opportunities outside of your particular interests (such as the New Venture Challenge). The Booth MBA is a transformative experience; through your application, demonstrate to the admissions team that you have a plan, but that you are open to the opportunities and avenues that a Chicago MBA will provide.

To read the complete list of top tips for applying to Booth, click here.

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