Applying to U.S. Business Schools from the Middle East

regional director for middle east

Guest Blogger: Lana Dajani, Fuqua's Regional Director in the Middle East

A True/False Exam

What do the GMAT, GPAs and VISA requirements have in common?

Well, the answer could be many things, but for the sake of this blog, these are three areas that frequently are on the mind of prospective students from the Middle East when contemplating business school. Here is a short true/false test that dispels some of the myths related to the GMAT, the required GPA for business school and the reality of VISA requirements:

1. My GMAT score defines my application.

Answer — FALSE. Standardized exams can be terrifying, difficult and can add a tremendous amount of stress to a person’s life. The same applies to the big, bad GMAT — the standardized exam for prospective MBA students across the world. Over the past three years, I have personally come across thousands of prospective students in the Middle East and roughly 9 out of 10 have expressed genuine anxiety over the GMAT exam. They are convinced that it is the one determining factor and that if they don’t score above 700, rejection is inevitable. In reality, it is one of many requirements that comprise the application. Admissions officers are equally interested in the quality of both your work experience and undergraduate education. Is it important? Sure. Candidates should take practice exams or sign up for a preparation course. Perhaps consider taking the exam a second time if you’re not satisfied with your score.

Oh, and a word of advice: do not ask for a waiver. I have been asked far too many times if Duke could waive the GMAT exam requirement. The answer remains a firm negative. Personally, I would be suspicious if a business school did in fact agree to waive the exam as a requirement because that would scream inconsistency and a potential lack of quality amongst the student body.

Learn more about the GMAT and other application requirements for the Daytime MBA program at Fuqua.

2. An average undergraduate GPA will destroy my application.

The answer here is also FALSE. Maybe you didn’t graduate summa cum laude. That’s ok. Try to strengthen the other parts of your application — write stellar essays, give a good interview and get strong recommendation letters from your managers and peers. Get creative. Admissions officers are looking for a well-rounded student who can really add value to the program.

3. I shouldn’t embellish my credentials on my application.

TRUE. Most business schools take the honor code very seriously and this begins with the application. Don’t inflate your application with fabrications. Admissions officers do their fair share of due diligence on candidates. The quickest way to a rejection is by being insincere.

4. I should apply early to avoid visa complications.

TRUE. All admitted international students will require an F-1 student visa. International students cannot study at Duke University’s U.S. campus on a tourist visa. We recommend allotting approximately 2-3 months for this process, and we strongly encourage international students to apply by the Round 2 deadline (Jan. 6, 2014) to ensure enough time for visa processing. Students will need to complete a web form and submit visa documentation to Duke University for an I-20. Upon receipt of your I-20 from Duke University, admitted students will need to schedule a visa stamp appointment at their local U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

Learn more about applying early to the Daytime MBA program. The first application deadline, for the Early Action Round, is Sept. 18, 2013.

Are you ready? Apply now to the Daytime MBA program.

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