MBA Scholarships: How Do I Apply and What Should I Emphasize?

Which b-schools offer the most scholarships?

Scholarship dollars are designated by a donor for specific reasons.

While each school has its own unique scholarship offerings (merit only, merit and need, need only), they do so for a variety of reasons.  Similar to admissions, a director will consider your academic indicators, your work experience, your extra-curricular activities, your goals and your community service.  They also consider socio-economic factors for need-based and outstanding accomplishments for merit-need-based scholarships.

Merit-based general scholarships give the schools an opportunity to attract a candidate that they may not have the opportunity to enroll without the scholarship.  For schools with deep pockets, it helps the admissions office attract and maintain individuals that without the scholarship, the school could easily lose to other schools.  It also helps some schools fill their enrollment requirements.  Regardless, scholarships enable the admissions director to create his or her mosaic.

In addition to general scholarships, each school may also have specialized scholarships.   Those scholarships often will be given to students that diversify the population through their goals or their backgrounds.  In addition to school scholarships, outside organizations may partner with the school to offer scholarships or offer scholarships autonomously. Many organizations offer scholarships for students with disabilities (National MS Society, Setoma, SBA), women (Forte, AAUW) under-represented minorities (Consortium, Tiogo, American Association of Indian Affairs, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, NSHMBA, NBMBA, Pfizer, Hispanic College Fund, and international students (Fulbright).  Specialized scholarships can be found on a national level (GFAO, Peace Corps, GI Bill, Fisher House), state level (New York State Scholarship Fund) and local level (Shanghai municipal scholarship) as well as through charitable and religious organizations.

Each school also has scholarship dollars that are designated by a corporate donor, alumnus or friend of the school for specific reasons.  Ernst and Young gave one school for whom I worked an endowment to distribute to candidates with accounting backgrounds, and another school for whom I worked had an alumnus who offered the school a fund designated for incoming Brazilian student scholarships.

I had the most difficulty distributing scholarships to local students with very specific backgrounds.  For example at one school, an alumnus gave us a generous fund to offer scholarships to students with accounting backgrounds from a specific county in the state in which the alumnus grew up.  The county was quite small and we rarely had applicants that applied to our school from that county with accounting backgrounds.  We couldn’t distribute that scholarship for several years in a row and when we did find a candidate that matched the criteria, that candidate received the scholarship regardless of need or merit.

Your best sources for scholarships are Fastweb.org, Scholarships.com, and the school you plan to attend.  However, check with each school’s scholarship policy before applying for admission.  Some schools may have you write an essay or check a box to show interest in scholarships.  Others distribute scholarships based on your admissions application and you don’t need to indicate an interest in scholarship at all.

Regardless of how you piece together your school funding, don’t pay for a scholarship search.  The information is free on the Internet or through your school’s admissions and/or financial aid office. Also, keep in mind that you must complete the FAFSA for U.S. scholarships and loans or the international equivalent through your country’s ministry of education.  And if you have multiple offers with scholarships, you have some negotiating power. If you need additional information, please contact me.


Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: Senior Year

Check out the rest of the Getting Ready to Apply to College Series!

Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application.

In this final segment of our new series Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: A Four Part Series for Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors, I offer tips to high school seniors.

Accepted.com can help bring out your best in your applications and my colleagues and I are here to help.

Tips for High School Seniors

1. Create a spreadsheet that includes all of your school choices and your “to do” list like writing essays, supplements, gathering transcripts (many schools use a service like parchment.com and I have found this service to provide an easy and high quality solution needed to expedite transcripts).  Note all the deadlines and to which schools you are applying for Early Decision, Early Action or Regular Decision.

2. Use the summer to complete the more tedious parts of the Common Application. It will reopen the summer before you begin your senior year.   Narrow down your school choices if you haven’t done so already.

3. Calendar time to apply to the UC system schools, if those schools are on your short-list. The University of California Application will open on October 1 and they give you a very small window to apply to the schools (November 1-November 30) but you can apply to many schools with the one application.  Each school also has its own supplements, so build the time you need to complete the applications.

4. Prepare and schedule time to apply to schools outside the UC system and schools that do not use the Common App. Note the schools that don’t subscribe to the common app and make certain that you are prepared to apply to these schools directly.

5. Build in 3-4 hours a week to work on your applications.  Most of my clients begin with their common application essay.  Remember that this essay will be read by all the common app schools to which you apply, and you won’t be able to reuse its contents in your supplemental essays.

6. Brainstorm essay concepts with someone whose judgment you trust: a parent, a teacher, a counselor, a consultant, or a family friend whose writing you admire.  I don’t suggest using your peers for this exercise.  If you pushed your boundaries in prior years, you will have good material to write about.  You need to believe that you are an interesting person and that the admissions director would want to have a 5-course meal with you, not just a 5-minute conversation.

7. Outline your essays and begin to write.  Ask for feedback.  Have someone look at your application and essays for editing, typos, grammar, and sentence structure.  When you are satisfied with the outcome, make sure you upload clean copies of your essays into the application.  Continue this process until you have completed all your applications.  Early applications are due in September or October and Regular Decisions are due in January.  Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application.

8. Make certain everything on the application is complete before you submit.

9. Check and recheck with your recommenders to make certain they have submitted their reference.
Retake the SAT or ACT, if necessary, before you submit your application.

10. Continue your good study habits and your leadership at school.  Universities will ask for a mid-term report before rendering a final decision.

Your decisions will begin to roll in and you will be on your way to a new journey that will likely be the best four years of your life.

Good luck!

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: Junior Year

Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do List for Eleventh Graders - click here for your free copy!

Schools use the junior year as a cornerstone for your academic achievement. Now is the time to excel.

In the third post of our new series Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: A Four Part Series for Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors, I offer tips to high school juniors.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to gain admission into the country’s elite schools, knowing how to navigate the system should become important for you.

Tips for High School Juniors

1. Continue to take AP courses and tests.  Schools use the junior year as a cornerstone for your academic achievement.  Now is the time to excel.

2. Decide whether to take the SAT (and for some schools, SAT subject tests) or the ACT with writing and get assistance in preparing for these tests.  You will take them in your junior year, but you will have another opportunity to take the test in the summer.  You must be diligent in practicing for these exams outside of preparation classes or tutoring sessions.  Work with your peers or faculty through problems you don’t understand.  Practice tests will show you your weaknesses and it will be up to you to find the appropriate means to strengthen those weaknesses.  Most universities accept both the ACT and the SAT, but consider your top schools and make sure that the test you choose is a test they evaluate.

3. Ask 2-4 teachers if they can write you an outstanding recommendation.  Most schools require two teachers, but if you plan to apply to 20 schools, you are putting a lot of burden on those teachers.  Split it up and give them less of a work load.

4. Take on more leadership or get involved in something you care deeply about.  Schools are looking to see that you can push your own boundaries and always strive to achieve your best.

5. Begin to think about your place in the world and what you hope to achieve.

6. Use your winter and spring breaks to visit schools.  Attend school visits to your city.  Talk with alumni, current students (most schools have ambassadors that live in your city).  Get to know your regional admissions officer and make sure you are top of mind as an intelligent leader and team player.  Let them know your passions.  Follow up with all correspondence to everyone connected with the schools of your choice.

7. Narrow down your school list.  You should have some stretch schools 2-3, some match schools 5-7 and some safety schools 2-3.  If you are not sure how to narrow down your search, Accepted.com can assist you with this task.

8. Clean up all potentially negative social media. If it doesn’t reflect well on you, it could hurt your chances of acceptance.

9. Look for summer work that will not only give you extra spending money, but also opportunities to learn more about a field that interests you.

Download Free: Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do List for Eleventh Graders
Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: Sophomore Year

Check out our special report Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do List for Eleventh Graders.

It is time to answer some questions about what kind of school you’d like to attend.

In this second post of our new Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: A Four Part Series for Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and SeniorsI offer tips to high school sophomores.  This year is a pivotal year for high school students and an important year for admissions directors.

Tips for High School Sophomores

1. Continue to take AP courses and then take the test at the end of the course. Applying to college with 6-8 AP courses and tests behind you can knock almost an entire year of college off your college requirements. You would begin university as a freshman, but to the university, based on the number of credits you bring in, you could be considered a sophomore. This option alone will enable you to save thousands of dollars in tuition or take lighter loads in college enabling you to work or get involved in extracurricular and community service activities that will help you in your job search and also when applying to graduate school.

2. Get to know your administrators.  The Principal or Headmaster, Vice Principals and Counselors can be wonderful advocates for you.  They may be willing to go the extra mile and write a letter of recommendation for you.  I am certain that one of my client’s was admitted off the waitlist to her favorite school because of her Principal’s letter extolling her leadership, intelligence and relating the admiration of her peers and faculty.

3. Study for and take the PSAT.  Most students believe the PSAT is just a practice test for the SAT, but it is so much more. The PSAT is also called the NMSQT because this test can qualify you for a National Merit Scholarship, the National Achievement Scholarship, the National Hispanic Recognition Program or a number of Corporate Scholarships.  Note that the National Merit Scholarship Corporation does require its scholarship recipients to be U.S. citizens.

4. Begin thinking about the kind of school you would like to attend:

• Large, medium or small
• City, rural, campus or suburban
• College or university or community
• Specified or all-encompassing
• Public or private
• In-state or out-of state
• Historically Black College, faith-based, All-female
• Ask seniors where they are attending school and why they chose the school that they chose.
• Is having a Greek (fraternity or sorority) presence important to you?
• Is living in an all-freshman dormitory important to you?
• Is a semester abroad program important to you?

5. Begin to take on leadership roles in your extracurricular activities.  Don’t just run for student government representative, but run for sophomore class chairperson.

6. Study, study, study…read, read, read.

 Download Free: Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do List for Eleventh Graders

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: Freshman Year

Want more college admissions advice? Check out our College Admissions 101 pages!

Explore things that you always wanted to try.

This post is the first in our new series Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: A Four Part Series for Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.

Having consulted with numerous clients on college admissions, I am now faced with personal decisions. My stepsons are getting ready to apply to college and I’ve been strategizing with them, gathering the tips for them that I have given to my clients throughout the years for this purpose and now implementing on our strategy. Both boys have very different levels of motivation and ambition, but the tips remain the same.

Tips for High School Freshman:

1. If you want to compete for top-tier programs, you need to begin taking AP courses (or IB courses if you are in an International Baccalaureate program). I suggest that you take 1-2 each year and then test at the end of that year, so you don’t have to cram everything into your junior and senior year. Take the most rigorous course for your abilities. While most admissions officers would like to see “As” in AP courses, getting an “A” in a non-AP course is the often the equivalent of a “B” in an AP course. These courses are sometimes limited in the freshman year, so check with your guidance counselor before you register for classes.

2. Get involved in extracurricular activities (sports, newspaper, yearbook, theatre, music, honor societies). Explore things that you always wanted to try, but never had the opportunity to pursue. For example, if you’ve always had a love for photography, use it for the school yearbook. If you want to make an impact on the school, run for student government. If you want to create a club that doesn’t exist, discuss the pros and cons with administration and inspire others to join you. I had one client (now a sophomore at university who created a healthy living club where she taught students about nutrition and exercise and then used some of the meeting time to exercise, meditate or practice yoga together…then they created other chapters at other high schools and mitigated the obesity epidemic by 10% in area high schools). And volunteer for community service activities (outside of the community service you must conduct as part of your state’s high school graduation requirement). Note: it is better to be deeply involved in a few diverse activities than to put all your energy into one activity or little energy into many activities. Just make certain that you can manage your time. Don’t let your academics slip because of your involvement with the swim team.

3. Study, study, study and if you are struggling with a subject, ask your parents, your counselors and the faculty for help. With the Khan Academy, free help is now available where you could only rely on tutors or faculty office hours in the past. Use these tools.

4. Read, read, read: fiction, non-fiction, news…anything you can get your eyeballs on. Don’t rely on TV, Twitter or YouTube to give you all the answers and expand your mind.

5. Prepare your curriculum for the next 4 years. You will need to complete required coursework throughout your four years of high school. These requirements are university-specific, so research the requirements of some of the schools you are thinking about now and don’t get caught in your senior year trying to make up courses you could have taken throughout high school.

• The Science trifecta (biology, chemistry, and physics…you need at least one lab science)

• Social Sciences (I highly recommend taking both US History and World History)

• Foreign Language (2-4 years: each school has different requirements)

• English (4 years that cover language and literature, composition and speech)

• Math (four years and for elite schools: calculus, but for other school you need to complete intermediate algebra)

• Fine and Performing Arts (1-2 years: each college has unique requirements so check with the university or college)

• Computer course (1 programming course or literacy course. If you intend to apply for engineering or computer science, take several programming courses and consider the AP. If you have no desire to step foot on the engineering campus or in a computer science classroom than one computer literacy course should be fine).

Download Free: Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do List for Eleventh Graders

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.