Debunking INSEAD admissions myths! And what they mean instead

Myth 1 . INSEAD requires mandatory international work experience

INSEAD MBA cohort is one of the most diverse groups of people put together in a classroom. This can create a challenging environment (in terms of language, cultural and social norms) for students who have never interacted with foreigners before. This does not mean that INSEAD Admissions Committee will consider specifically applicants who have worked internationally. Instead, Ad Com is looking for examples in your essays where you demonstrate appreciation for diversity and an open mind. One can showcase these qualities even without having a real international work experience. Some examples- travelling, working in a multinational with teams situated across geographies, moving within native country for jobs, family or education (can signal ease of mobility and adaptability), learning a new language or working with people who are demographically different.

Myth 2. INSEAD requires very high GMAT Scores

While higher GMAT Scores significantly add value, applicants are compared with peers from the same geographical region or country. Indians and Chinese students on average do very well on quant scores, therefore an applicant who scores significantly below average on quant could lose competitive advantage. Similarly, GMAT Verbal score will not be a very strong determinant for the above-mentioned nationalities but can be for their British and American counterparts.

Myth 3. Only outstanding applicants get INSEAD Scholarships

Scholarships at INSEAD are given to deserving students but only those who need them most. Diversity scholarships form the bulk of scholarship opportunities given to students from (economically) emerging countries or demographics. INSEAD takes into account the relative value of money across countries and tries to help as many students as possible. For standing a decent chance at getting scholarship, applicants must clearly communicate about their financial situation in the essays where possible.

Myth 4. Chances of getting into INSEAD are low if you have not managed a team directly

Rather than your people management skills, INSEAD Admissions Committee is interested to know how you “influence” people to get things going. This is an important aspect of successful leadership stories. Demonstrating cross functional stakeholder management skills or narrating transversal management anecdotes in the essays add much color to the applicant’s profile.

Myth 5. INSEAD has strong 2nd/3rd language criteria

This point connects with Myth 1 where Admissions Committee only wants to see your motivation for working with a diverse group of people at INSEAD. The 2nd / 3rd language criteria at INSEAD reinforces the virtue of being a truly global school. Students are not required to know a 2nd/3rd language at the time of admission but need to take up at least one additional language to graduate (preliminary levels only). The language classes at INSEAD are much fun and add playfulness to an otherwise intensive core curriculum.

If you have heard any other unwarranted statements, do let me know and I will add them to the list. 

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