Every year, a handful of lucky first-year MBA students start business school with their spouses as classmates. But no one quite knows how to go about the process of applying. If you’re a married couple (or planning to get married) and are thinking about both applying to business school, read on.
Here are some quick hit tips from our friends who went through the business school application process with their spouses:
1. Figure out “common ground” schools.
First things first: make sure that every school you’re considering applying to is one from which both of you would be happy to receive your MBA degree. If one of you feels like you’re compromising on choices, it’s probably best to take that school off that person (or both people’s list). Or, refer to number 6.
2. …then visit those schools.
This tip goes for people applying individually to schools, but especially for couples. Make sure you both get to campus, walk around, take a tour, and get a good feel from the place. If possible, get in front of an admissions officer for an informal chat. Let them know early (and on your best behavior) that you’re considering applying as a couple (also refer to number 5).
3. Apply early.
If you think applying to business school is a time-consuming process, consider two people applying – both balancing full-time jobs and putting together applications, while trying to make themselves available to be an editor for the other. “Leave some time in case one of you isn’t doing well,” said one couple. “If one of you is struggling with essays, or studying for the GMAT, or things come up with work – you want to have a little breathing room.”
Some schools do a better job of helping couples apply together – adding a check box for whether or not you are applying with someone else, or making efforts to schedule on-campus interviews on the same day. Other schools read applications side-by-side, and try to notify couples of their admissions decisions around the same time, to limit the agonizing waiting period. Try to find out if the schools you’re interested in do this by talking to the family clubs, etc. at your desired school.
5. Be prepared to discuss your spouse with the Admissions Committee.
At many schools, there is no formalized application process or explicit question about whether or not you’re applying with your spouse. However, you can take ownership of this step, particularly if you’re unwilling to go to separate schools. Said the husband in one couple that attended Kellogg together,
“The process for applying as a couple is non-existent. But there’s always that supplemental essay. In both our apps we put a paragraph, we said we were basically a ‘package deal.’ We were clear that you can’t accept one of us and the other will come.”
6. Discuss different scenarios in advance. Consider if one of you is accepted and one isn’t – how will you both react? Will you be there for each other? And, what will you do: defer, re-apply and try to attend school at the same time? What if you are accepted into different schools – would you be willing to attend those schools simultaneously? There are many permutations of admissions scenarios to consider – prepare yourselves if your ideal one doesn’t work out.
You’re lucky – you and your best friend are applying to school together. Just remember that it can be an emotionally grueling process, and that you’ll need each other throughout. And…well…good luck!
Photos courtesy of dannyqu and Mr. Thomas (all Flickr)
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