What Do Business Schools Look For in Undergraduate Applicants? | Top Universities

What Do Business Schools Look For in Undergraduate Applicants?

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Updated September 16, 2021 Updated September 16, 2021

Sponsored by SBS Swiss Business School

With business ranking as one of the top programs prospective students want to study for their undergraduate degree, it’s pretty competitive out there. Sure, good grades can help but there are a few other things that can help set you apart from the rest.

If you aren’t sure where to start or just really want to get into your dream program, we’ve teamed up with SBS Swiss Business School, located in the financial capital of Europe – Zurich – for some great tips on what business schools look for in applicants and how you can stand out.

A well-rounded application

A motivation letter, a copy of your high school diploma and transcript, complete curriculum vitae including both your current and previous professional experience, as well as internships and any volunteer activities.

Unlike a master’s degree in business, work experience is not essential for a business undergraduate application. However, if you’ve done any type of business-related work it can certainly help you stand out from the competitive applicant crowd by including it.

If required, you will also need to include proof of your English language proficiency with the TOEFL or IELTS. Oh, and photographic ID as well (just make sure it is front facing and good quality).

Once you’ve compiled everything you’ll need, try to apply early. Applying early can better your chances of getting in, according to Franziska Klauser, BBA and MSc Program Manager at SBS Swiss Business School.

So, what else do business schools look for in prospective undergraduate applicants?

Evidence of soft skills

A passion for knowledge, good organization, a global mindset, persistence, and motivation are all skills and traits that Klauser uses to describe what she looks for in applicants who apply to study the Bachelor of Business Administration at SBS Swiss Business School.

Extra-curricular activities, volunteering projects, part-time work – all of these can really help you to develop and even perfect some of these soft skills. Which brings us to our next point…

Commitment to participation and collaboration

Showcase your extracurricular activities outside of school, such as the Honor’s Society, Class President, sports, language courses, an academic team, and any business-related activities to name but a few.

Volunteer work is another thing that can help your application shine. Whether you’ve worked with various volunteer groups or have a cause that you are passionate about, be sure to include it in your application.

But don’t feel like you need to sign up for every extra-curricular class and volunteer scheme. When it comes to things like this, it really is about quality – not quantity. And that’s not to say that you should be part of the Entrepreneurial Club or run for Class President just because you want to study business.

Instead, you should look closely at whatever it is that you do in your club, society or project scheme, and highlight any achievements – big or small – and also how being a part of the club has helped enhance your skillset, such as teamwork, or problem-solving, or communication, for example.

A genuine interest in the school itself and the program

Candidates need to demonstrate a genuine interest in both the course and the school and explain why it suits them, according to Klauser.

Be sure to expand on this in your motivation letter and also in your in-person interview. Talk about why you’re passionate about attending that particular business school and maybe even mention how their mission statement or values align with yours.

If you know a Bachelor of Business Administration degree is for you, make sure you’ve done your research and talk about why International Management is the ideal major for you.

Beyond everything that you should do to be successful, there are also a couple of things you should keep in mind to avoid doing….

Don’t lie or submit a poorly written application

According to Klauser, the above are two things you should definitely avoid doing in your application. Don’t lie or embellish your extracurriculars, work experience, or anything else for that matter – this will only hurt you in the long run.

You also should be sure to double-check your motivation letter and the rest of your application for any grammatical or spelling errors. It may be best to also have someone else look over everything too.

Someone who shines on paper and in real-life

Last but certainly not least, the interview. You’ve got this far, so now’s the time to really let your personality shine through and make the best case for why you’d be a great fit at the school and for the program.

In the interview, you’ll be able to expand on your application and all that you’ve done to be a good applicant for a bachelor’s degree in business.

This article was originally published in June 2020 . It was last updated in September 2021

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