An interview with Maria Yusakova, Director of Studies, StudentGuide

A strong GMAT score and good undergraduate grades are often credentials which get you in the game rather than guarantee you admission. Community or professional involvement, or both, is an opportunity to show the admissions people that you’re dynamic, energetic, creative, working with other people, and demonstrating leadership qualities.

What are your student’s reasons for pursuing an MBA?

The students at the StudentGuide are a diverse group of engineers, consultants, salesmen, and general managers. Our students already have an international profile. Despite the prestige of some of the firms they represent, many of our students feel that there is a lack of upward mobility in their jobs. They view the MBA as a key or “right of passage” that will expand their options and thereby increase their chance of rapid career move.

What are the main difficulties your students face while completing their applications?

There are two main categories in the application: "numbers" and "human". The numbers are static: GMAT and TOEFL scores, transcripts, and previous degrees, work experience, languages spoken, etc. They tell the admissions director a lot about the candidate, but they don’t begin to explain his or her motivation, ethics, focus, and abilities. That is what the "human" side is for (essays, letters of recommendation, interview). The GMAT and TOEFL are probably the most difficult part of the application, but can be significantly improved.

What makes a strong candidate?

A candidate who wants to maximise his or her chances of acceptance needs to be strong across a range of criteria. For example, a career in which the applicant has already made an impact makes that applicant easier to measure and easier to market.

What type of support do you offer to your students?

Each of our students receives support throughout the application process we have divided in three steps:

Step 1: School selection

Working with a counsellor, the student selects a list of three to five programmes. Depending on the schools selected, the counsellor gives our student a schedule and TOEFL and GMAT target scores.

Step 2: Test preparation

Tests are one of the most important parts of your application and can be improved dramatically. If you are not a native speaker of English you have to take both the GMAT and the TOEFL. This step should take between two and five months. However, StudentGuide offers an unlimited number of teaching hours.

Step 3: The application

While preparing for the TOEFL and GMAT, a candidate should work on the other parts of his or her application. They are:

- The academic records

- The letters of recommendation

The essays are the first opportunity for the admissions directors to "hear" the candidate’s voice, and for the MBA applicant to show his or her human skills. It is the goal of our coaches to make those essays mirror the student’s personality. Our students work with professional editors and coaches coming exclusively from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, INSEAD, and Columbia.

What advice do you have for our readers who are thinking about getting an MBA?

Getting an MBA requires a high level of maturity and openness, as well as readiness to commit to a change in one’s life and career. Every applicant should ask himself or herself: Am I ready for an MBA? What do I want to achieve through it, personally and professionally?

About StudentGuide

StudentGuide offers comprehensive preparation services to perspective MBA students, including test prep courses, individual MBA coaching, and essay editing. The centre has helped many applicants join business schools in Europe and North America: LBS, INSEAD, Wharton, Stanford, to mention a few.