Frog to Dragon: HEC MBA & Tsinghua MBA Blog

The quest for wisdom, from France to China, of an HEC MBA & Tsinghua MBA dual degree student (class of 2011)

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Posted by at 1 November , 2011

Admissions » School selection » GMAT » Essays » Recommendations » Interviews » Focus on HEC

Following many comments and e-mail discussions I had about HEC MBA admissions, and after having completed my MBA, I thought it would be helpful to write a page about what’s important to apply to the HEC MBA.
(I also think it’s valid for applying to many MBAs of the same caliber as HEC.)

I’m basing my assessment on my own experience and on two very useful articles (in French… sorry) published on L’ with Valérie Gauthier, who led the MBA until 2010. One article is about the admission process, while the other is about essays.

The article about the admission process is pretty counter intuitive but you don’t get this type of good feedback from someone who’s right at the top of a world class MBA program.

So here’s the weight of each element of the application (Source: L’

Weight of application criteria
Education 25%
Professionnal Experience 30%
International Experience 15%
Extra-curricular 10%
Recommendation Letters 10%
Essays 10%

This scoring will look strange for those who are currently spending hours, days and months on their GMAT and essays while thinking how important they are – with this illusion happily perpetuated by every “admission consultants” making their business out of applicants – but it’s not so surprising in the end.

It only means that an MBA is part of a professional evolution.
BTW, regarding the weight attributed to education vs. professional experience, I think it depends on where the applicant is in terms of career. Academic success will be more relevant for someone with 2 years of professional experience, rather than for someone who’s 10 years into his/her career.

While it’s impossible to modify one’s professional experience or academic transcripts for an MBA application, everyone is responsible to make it look as best as possible by writing a proper CV!
So many applicants send a 3 and a half page long CV with poor margins and a series of useless information (I once saw a CV where the applicant wrote his favourite dish in the “Others’ section…)
Given the importance of this criterium, it’s worth investing a bit of time on it, I’d say 1 or 2 days minimum and if you can with a review from someone who’s professionaly involved in recruiting.

The international experience and extra-curriculars are a sign of openness and curiosity towards others. This is something important foe an MBA like HEC, who’s proud of its diversity, but it also shows one’s ability to evolve out of their comfort zone.

Finally, I’d like to point out the fact that recommendation letters, while often left unattended until the last moment of the application, are just as important as essays!
Basically, I’m thinking that the admission staff is pretty pragmatic about it: not everyone is Shakespeare, and more importantly many application essays are now written with the heavy involvement of admission consultant, hence of less value. However a good and sincere recommendation by a colleague or supervisor will indicate that the applicant’s MBA project is supported, hence serious.

For the rest, interviews will mainly help understand the quality of the applicant, and in particular his/her professional evolution, as compared to the others of the group.

Admissions » School selection » GMAT » Essays » Recommendations » Interviews » Focus on HEC

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