RESOURCES – Application Tips
Depending on where you live in the world and what type of positions you have held, there are a wide variety of formats and standards out there for resumes. In the business world in North America, a resume is typically limited to one or possibly two pages, so if your resume is currently flowing with every detail of every job and every project you have ever worked on, you will want to re-think that for your Schulich application.
Resumes should not be laundry lists of all of the responsibilities you held in your past positions, but should highlight your biggest accomplishments. Each bullet point under your listed positions should be impactful, starting with an action verb, and quantifying achievements when possible. It is said that recruiters only take six seconds to scan your resume, so you want the most impressive points to really stand out. The less cluttered and the more organized your resume can be, the better.
Schulich’s Career Development Centre puts together a resume book for employers and the resumes in that book need to follow a particular format. While you do not need to follow the same format for your application, if your resume needs an overhaul, you may want to use this format as your guide, giving you less work to do once you get here!
The Schulich School of Business requests two references as part of the application process. Who should you choose as your referees?
If you have been working for several years, chances are that you will want both references to come from the professional arena. Your direct managers, past or present, make the best referees as they are most intimately familiar with your work and potential. If you have worked on a project for several months, the project lead could also make a strong referee, if you worked with that individual extensively. It doesn’t make a difference to us if both references come from the same company, and you do not have to include a current supervisor, as we know not everyone is going to be comfortable asking.
If you are self-employed or work for a family business, you may need to get a bit creative regarding who you will choose as a reference (we don’t suggest mom or dad!). A client, vendor, or professional services provider that you work with closely could do the trick, as long as you have extended exposure to working with the referee.
Choosing a referee from your extra-curricular life can also work if you have committed yourself to a volunteer or possibly on-campus role over a significant length of time.
If you are in school or graduated within the last two years, you can choose to have a professor act as a referee, but we would suggest you go this route only if you have an established relationship with the professor and you definitely made a positive impression beyond the typical student-professor relationship. We would still suggest that one of your references come from a work environment, even if it’s from a part-time or summer position.
Finally, consider taking your prospective referees for coffee to explain why you are applying to the MBA program, and feel free to remind them of some of your greatest accomplishments! Don’t be afraid to ask if they would be willing to give you a positive recommendation; you may think you know how they feel but should ensure the references will not be working unwittingly against you (you will never see them, as they are submitted online and remain confidential between the referee and the School). We suggest approaching your referees right at the start of your application process, to give them the time that they need to complete the reference form in a thoughtful way.
The biggest hurdle of any MBA application is the GMAT. This application element is still totally within your control, unlike your grades, but it does take time and effort to do well. Here are a few tips for you to consider when contemplating the exam.
Study methodology: There are many different ways to approach exam preparation, including self-study, online courses, in-person courses and tutoring. Self-study can work well if you are disciplined and don’t feel the need to have an instructor to ask questions of; courses ensure you are covering all the material and can give you great tips but generally have a significant cost. Figure out which method is going to work best for you. Either way, make sure that once you are comfortable with the material, you practise writing the exam on a computer under the same timed conditions you will encounter during the actual test.
Study time: There is no particular amount of study time that is going to be right for everyone, but most students prepare for the exam by studying at least 100 hours over two to three months. There certainly can be exceptions – we have seen the unusual case of an individual studying for a week and scoring over 700 – but it would be wise to put together a study plan where you schedule your study time right into your calendar at the outset. There will be lots of other tempting things to do besides study, but sticking to your plan will help ensure your success!
Booking your test date: Some people like to book their GMAT test date well in advance so that they are working towards a specific goal, others like to wait until they feel they have the material almost under control before choosing the date. If you’re a procrastinator, you may want to opt for the former so that you are motivated by the deadline, but do keep in mind that you can only change your test date up to 7 days in advance for a cost of US$50. If you’re very self-motivated, the latter can work, but please keep in mind that there are a limited number of GMAT test centres in any one city and they are sometimes booked up for several weeks. In addition, sometimes people like/need to take the test more than once, and you can only take it once every 16 days, so don’t leave the exam to the last minute!
We offer the Schulich GMAT Study Series from time to time at the school, which includes a series of free test orientation events and a mock exam, followed by a GMAT Bootcamp.
We don’t have a hard minimum cut-off for the exam, but we are usually considering scores of 550 and above, with our average score last year being 660. Best of luck in your preparations!
The Schulich School of Business requires all post-secondary educational transcripts to be sent to us as part of your application package. There are two type of transcripts:
Official transcripts are those that are issued directly by the institution and are sent to us in a sealed and stamped envelope. If the envelope is opened en route to the School, the transcript will no longer be considered official.
Unofficial transcripts are your own copies that were issued to you directly by the university or that you have downloaded from the university website.
We can use either official or unofficial transcripts when assessing your application. You may scan your own unofficial copies and upload them to your application, as long as they are clearly legible and you include the legend from the back of the transcript (if applicable). However, we require that official transcripts to be sent, as well. We recommend ordering these as soon as possible because they can take a month or sometimes much longer to arrive, and any offer of admission will be conditional upon receiving official transcripts. In addition, if your unofficial transcript is not fully legible, we will have to wait for the official transcript to arrive before we can complete the review of your application.
If your transcript is issued in a language other than English or French, we will also need to receive an English translation, provided either directly by your university or a certified translator. If you are using the latter, you will need to order two copies of your transcript – one that gets sent to us unopened, and one for the translator.
While we do require all post-secondary transcripts, we are usually going to be most focused on your most recent education, so if you have completed another Masters degree, those grades will be deemed more relevant than your undergraduate degree. However, we will look at all transcripts to help us to understand your academic history and potential.
We introduced the video essays as an optional application element in January 2015 but it is now a compulsory part of the Schulich graduate business application. The video essays are your opportunity to demonstrate your oral communication skills to the person reviewing your application file. After you have submitted your application, you will be emailed a personalized link to complete the video essays. Once you have logged in and tested your technical set-up, a question will be posed via pre-recorded video by a member of our Graduate Recruitment & Admissions team. You will have 45 seconds to plan your response, and then up to 90 seconds to record it. There will be two questions where your answers will be recorded, but you can practice the format first in a way that will look identical to the real thing but will not be recorded. You can practice as many times as you like with up to five sample questions. The first of the recorded questions posed will be a get-to-know-you type of question, and the second will relate more to the workplace.
The reason to celebrate this new application element is that the video essays help lift your application off the page and help us to get to know you better. The video essays do not replace a live interview with a member of our admissions team, which will come by invitation after your application has been reviewed, but can help other members of our Admissions and Awards committees get to know you a little bit, too. While you might be nervous at first, don’t be! The questions are not meant to trip you up and there are no right answers. The vast majority of applicants who have submitted video essays have given feedback that it was actually a great chance to present themselves to the Admissions Committee.
We have a few more tips for you to ensure this goes as smoothly as possible:
- Click on your personalized video essay link only when you have at least 15 minutes to focus and are ready to record. You only get one chance to complete these and can’t start over once the process is in motion!
- Dress professionally, as you would want to be seen by the Admissions Committee.
- For the best outcome, ensure your webcam is fixed in one place and not hand-held.
- Complete the video essays in a location that you know will be quiet and undisturbed for the duration of the recording.
- If you have said all you need to say in your answer, click on the space bar to stop recording. There is no need to fill 90 seconds if you are done sooner.
- Again, don’t be nervous! Think of the video essays as a conversation with us. We very much look forward to meeting you.
You should also now expect a timed writing sample that will be completed directly after the video essays – see our written essay tips for more details!
The purpose of including admission essays as part of your application package is twofold: first, the school is trying to determine whether you will be a good fit, and second, to gauge your writing skills.
In terms of fit, Schulich wants to know why you think our program is right for you. There are no right or wrong answers; we just want you to have thought thoroughly about how the degree and Schulich, specifically, will be able to help you. Your reason for wanting to attend Schulich is not going to be identical to anyone else’s and we like diversity, so please don’t try to give us an answer that you think is the one we want to hear! Be yourself. If your post-degree goals are not yet well-honed, tell us why this degree makes sense for you at this point in time.
Many applicants find the essays a challenge due to the word limits. Please adhere to these. You need to be clear and concise, with simple language often increasing readability. Don’t over-rely on spellcheck, given the existence of homonyms! Proof read your essays a few times, possibly even reading them out loud to catch mistakes you may not have noticed when reading silently. You may also wish to have a trusted friend or relative do a final read to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
Sometimes applicants feel that they need to write something in the optional essay because it’s available. Please don’t! This space is to be used only when some part of your application needs clarification.
New this year, we have also included a timed writing response which will be completed at the same time as the video essays. In contrast to the essays that are submitted with the application, which can be carefully crafted and considered over time, this short essay question is written off the top of your head without time to deliberate. The point here is for us to see what you come up with on the spot, so our expectations for a polished product will not be the same as in the application essays. However, we will still be looking for interesting ideas and correct spelling and syntax. You will have a few minutes to answer a question we will ask in writing, and can submit sooner if you are done. Good luck and happy writing!