If you are an entrepreneur applying to business school, you might have questions about how to navigate the application process. Here are some strategies that will help you optimize your candidacy.

  • Make sure that your resume is extra clear.

It can be challenging for entrepreneurs to capture their eclectic work experience, and to convey things like progression. In fact, many entrepreneurs don’t even have polished resumes, if they haven’t applied for traditional jobs.

When drafting your business school resume, keep in mind that schools will be looking very carefully for evidence that your work experience is robust, and that you can contribute to classroom discussions. They also want to understand what you actually do on a daily basis, and to see quantified results. While these factors are, of course, also important for more traditional applicants, entrepreneurs should be especially sure to highlight and clarify their professional accomplishments.

  • Think carefully (and in advance) about your recommenders.

Entrepreneurs frequently lack a supervisor who can endorse them. If this is the case, please avoid asking anyone who reports to you, and think strategically about who is in the best position to answer the recommendation questions in a comprehensive way. Clients, co-founders and board members might work, and sometimes a senior colleague from a volunteer activity (like a non-profit board) can endorse you.

  • Be transparent about your salary and work schedule.

If you are an entrepreneur applying to business school who is not drawing a salary, either because you are re-investing in the company or not yet seeing a profit, just be straightforward. As with all business school applicants, your reported income should match your W-2 – you don’t want any issues when the schools verify your candidacy. Also, it can be common for entrepreneurs to work part-time on their companies, so again please be completely accurate about your schedule.

  • Start interview prep now.

If you haven’t interviewed for a professional role in a long time (or ever) it’s a good idea to start practicing now. As an added bonus, the more comfortable that you get articulating your goals and strengths the more persuasively you will be able to convey them in your essays.

  • Leverage your unique perspective and strengths.

Entrepreneurs bring many great qualities and perspectives to business school. Be proud of what you have learned, which might include the ability to take risks, vision, the ability to move forward in the face of ambiguity and other fantastic skills.

Business schools understand that many of their students want to become entrepreneurs in the future – and they truly value your expertise and non-traditional experience.




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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $70 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 98% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.
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