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How to Get In: Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School

What can you do to set yourself apart in your application? Admissions officials have the answers.


Often times, it may be several years between our first point of contact with a prospective student to the point when they submit an application. The decision to pursue an M.B.A. is, for many, a long process that is impacted heavily by both personal and professional factors. Within an admissions cycle, however, we have specific application deadlines and notification dates. An applicant should expect to receive a decision anywhere from several weeks to two months from submission. This will vary based on a number of factors, including the specific round within which a candidate applies, the application volume at the time of submission, the staff travel schedule, and the length of time needed to schedule and complete an admissions interview.

8. Which firms recruit heavily from your school? Which firms hire the highest percentage of your graduates?

We draw a wide ranging and diverse set of recruiters to the Olin School each year. They run the gamut from start-up companies to established local and regional employers to national and international Fortune 55 companies. We recognize that no two M.B.A. students are exactly alike, so their goals and ambitions need to be understood and considered before rolling out a cookie cutter approach to the career search. Fortunately, our program is small enough and our staff and alumni resources strong enough to help accomplish this lofty goal.

9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?

Beyond the obvious—poor academic history, low test scores, weak work experience—an applicant can hurt their chances in many different ways. One of these is to underestimate the importance of the essay(s) and the admissions interview. For schools that receive many applications, there will always be candidates who are competitive on the standard admissions metrics identified above.

Sometimes, the only point of discrimination between these candidates can then be something that is written in an essay or stated in an interview. Often times, these two components lie at the heart of a person's argument for admission. In order to make a compelling case, applicants must have well-developed reasons for attending b-school and must, by extension, have a clear sense of where they came from and where they wish to go.

10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?

The idea of an archetype is a bit of a myth. Great business school students come from all sorts of backgrounds—professional, academic, and cultural. We pride ourselves in recognizing that each student has his or her own personal story and future professional horizon. There is no template for the "ideal candidate." That said, we have noticed a common thread that exists in all great students. It is one that is more psychological in nature than anything else. The commonality lies in the passion to learn and the motivation to grow both personally and professionally, to do so within the context of an academic community, and to strive to excel in whatever directions their passion takes them.

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