How to Increase Your MBA Scholarship Chances in Under 5 Minutes

Melissa Rapp enjoys telling students they’ve been given a MBA scholarship the most in her line of work. Some scream, others shout, and others are rendered speechless.

As the associate dean of admissions at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Melissa gets to congratulate each year’s successful applicants. “It’s a wonderful day for me and my crew when we hear that enthusiasm in their voices,” she adds.

At Goizueta, half of the incoming class receives one of the institution’s merit-based scholarships, which are aimed at various groups including Hispanic Americans, LGBT+ students, and females.

How can you improve your chances of receiving a scholarship? Caught up with Melissa and Patrick Kelley, a student in the full-time MBA program at Goizueta and winner of the Reaching Out LGBT+ MBA fellowship, to learn how. Here are five of their top suggestions.

1. Consider the future

Obtaining an MBA scholarship is a time-consuming process that may not begin until you have the type of experience that will set your application apart from the crowd.

“Individuals who are really early in the process have a chance to commit themselves outside of work to demonstrate their community involvement and seek for chances to assume leadership responsibilities within groups they’ve been a part of,” explains Melissa.

Before applying for a scholarship, volunteer on your MBA profile, take on more responsibilities at work, or even start your own initiative.

2. Be proactive

As you gain more expertise, do some research into what sort of MBA scholarships are available to you.

“It’s important to be confident and ask for what you want,” says Patrick (pictured below), who had no idea he was eligible for a scholarship until he inquired about it.

The Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) scholarship is awarded to students in Patrick’s name. It aims to increase the role of LGBTQ individuals in business schools through mentorship and networking opportunities. Recipients obtain a minimum of $20,000 for tuition as well as access to a unique leadership program.

After you’ve identified the MBA scholarship possibilities, make sure to apply early. According to Melissa, by the third round of admissions, 80 percent of the class has been formed, leaving only 20 percent of the scholarship budget available.

3. Contact former students and admissions staff.

Another important aspect of the MBA is developing your network and learning how to connect with others. So, while conducting your study, don’t forget to reach out.

You could get useful information about the application process by looking at the history of your target school and past MBA scholarship recipients.

“People are ready and willing to have those discussions with you and walk you through the process,” Patrick adds.

Patrick also suggests contacting admissions directors. “They want to connect with their future students,” he says. “Especially at Goizueta, the class size is extremely tiny, so the professors have a lot of time to have those discussions.”

4.Self-promotion is important, but don’t be excessive.

“This is not the time to be modest,” Melissa adds. “I understand that candidates may have difficulties communicating their accomplishments or describing their experience in a way that properly emphasizes what they’ve accomplished, but now is the time to do it.”

Melissa advises utilizing all of your greatest leadership stories and professional triumphs, and putting your best foot forward. However, be cautious not to sound like you’re expecting something for nothing.

“There’s a fine line to walk between promoting oneself and taking for granted that you’re deserving of a scholarship,” Melissa points out. “We get hundreds of applications every year from very highly qualified individuals. It isn’t a given.”

5. Create your own brand of “you.”

The greatest method to distinguish yourself in a group of brilliant hopefuls is to be genuine.

“Simply be yourself, and try to be as genuine as you can during admissions essays and interviews,” Patrick advises. “Consider what you’re passionate about and concerned about, and see whether they match the values of the university to which you’re applying.”

The university may figure out if you’d be a good fit by learning more about who you are and what matters most to you.

“Make sure that in your application we can see that you want to be a part of the community and that you’ve given it some thought,” advises Melissa.

“Our scholarships are an investment in individuals who we believe are dedicated to the Goizueta mission, which is to educate principled leaders capable of influencing business and society,” she concludes.

Finally, the university wants to know whether you are someone they want to invest in. If you follow these five stages, your chances of being that person will improve significantly.

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