There are aspects of the MBA admissions process that most business school applicants know to expect. For example, individuals are required to submit scores from either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE), as well as responses to one or more essay questions. Something not every applicant may be aware of — but definitely should — is that they could be subjected to a background check.
If prospective MBA students are unfamiliar with the business school background check, here is what they should know:
Why do business schools conduct background checks?
Bloomberg Businessweek recently spoke to Diana Acuna, a product manager at HireRight, a background screening firm that works with several business schools to identify suspicious applicants. While every MBA program is different, she said that admissions officers are typically looking to see if candidates have a criminal record, and making sure their professional and academic history matches what appears on their application.
At Cornell University's Johnson School of Management, admissions officials begin their background checks as soon as applicants submit a deposit to attend an MBA program, Poets & Quants reported. Meanwhile, at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, it is important for admissions officials not to admit individuals who are lying about their accomplishments and past.
"We want to make sure that the people who come into the MBA program are who they say they are," Robert Dammon, dean of the Tepper School of Business, told the news source. "It's a very small percentage of people who are turned away."
What do background checks turn up?
While every business school applicant is unique, some of the things Acuna said may pop up during a background check are falsified employment information, felony drug possession and misdemeanor DUIs. However, not everything admissions officials discover is as troubling as a major criminal offense.
"My experience is that someone will put down that they graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and it will really be civil engineering," Christine Sneva, the admissions director at the Johnson School of Management, told Poets & Quants. "It's little things like that. It's very minor. Most people are very honest about what they put in the application."
Similarly, Dammon said it is a very small percentage of business school applicants who get turned away for something that came up during their background check.
Ultimately, MBA applicants who wish to increase their chances of being accepted to their ideal business school should just be as honest as possible during the admissions process.
By Monique Smith
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