Why Business Schools Like Family Business MBA Applicants

Mentioning your family business as an MBA applicant might feel irrelevant—or worse—harmful to your chances of admission.

But not so fast! This article will explain why family business applicants make great MBA students, and we’ll offer you some advice on how to best approach your application if you come from a family business background.

Why Should You Apply for an MBA as a Family Business Applicant?

You might think business schools prefer non-family business applicants, but that isn’t true. Family business applicants bring a new perspective and attitude that you should flaunt in your MBA application.

If you’re part of a family business, MBA programs will need to see your tangible success and leadership positions come through in your application.

Some ways family business applicants make excellent students include donation abilities, guaranteed leadership roles, and intriguing stories.

They also have an ingrained sense of collaboration with coworkers, leadership abilities, and adaptability in the face of hardship—all of which are highly-coveted traits in MBA candidates.

Unlike students coming from traditional work backgrounds, family business applicants also come from stable professional environments.

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Why Do MBA Programs like Experience in Family Businesses?

Did you know that applicants from family enterprises are far more likely to become CEOs or earn high leadership positions as graduates? This makes sense—leaving business school, family business students already have a built-in network and, likely, a senior-level position waiting for them.

Put differently, if a family business student can quickly secure a job, they’ll boost their school’s ratings.

Further, family business applicants often tell excellent stories in the personal essay section of the MBA application. In addition, many family enterprises have unique origin stories reflected in their company values, which is a significant aspect of the application.

Combining a professional story with personal history is an excellent strategy toward gaining admissions to your target MBA program, something family business applicants inherently have.

Most family business applicants are intensely involved in many facets of the company, such as production, management issues, or design.

Having a broad range of skills is attractive to MBA programs’ AdComs and sets them apart from highly specialized applicants.

As the leadership moves to the next generation, family business applicants have had to harness creativity and innovation to keep their company relevant.

Communication is necessary to translate these ideas to older generations, which are desirable skills for business schools.

And finally it is worth mentioning that most family businesses have been around for decades and can quickly provide the business school with donations after graduation.

What to Avoid When Writing Your Application to Business School

While family business applicants possess a wide range of skills and experience necessary for success, there are some application no-nos.

The first thing to avoid when working on your application is asking family members for a recommendation. While you might have worked in the family business your whole professional life, you can always request a close coworker or affiliate with the company to recommend you.

That way, you can establish your credibility with business schools.

Make sure to focus on the unique need your family enterprise fills in the community. Generating excitement might be difficult because most family businesses are not famous.

However, your application will shine if you highlight personal stories that show how exciting and dynamic the company is.

Best Business Schools for Family Business Applicants

Not every business school is created equal, and we have a list of the best programs for family business applicants. If you’re interested in getting an MBA to bring your family business into the next generation, it’s worth looking into whether the schools you’re interested in have a dedicated program or center for family business specifically.

The following schools have clubs or courses directed toward people from family businesses and are ideal for fostering a community of like-minded people.

Columbia Business School Family Business Program is dedicated to supporting and training family businesses.

They offer three-day courses called Enterprising Families to help with family business strategy, leadership, and collaborative skills.

The Wharton School offers a program called the Wharton Family Global Alliance to support family businesses by connecting them with global opportunities.

Wharton also supports family business owners by providing economic research into how they galvanize the economy.

Harvard Business School’s Family Business Club offers conferences, resources, and guest speakers for attendees to further their scope as a business.

Kellogg’s Center for Family Enterprise offers courses on strategy, governance, and other challenges that family owned businesses face.

MIT Sloan’s Family Enterprise Programs offer courses on succession planning, management, entrepreneurship, generational success, and other options that help family businesses.

Main Takeaways

If you are part of a family enterprise and are interested in pursuing an MBA, you may be at an advantage!

As you write your application, make sure to emphasize how your role in the company is dynamic and unique, and focus in on how your company plays a larger role in the given industry. Family business applicants have a unique asset that, if applied correctly, can lead to acceptance into the top business schools.

Leverage your family business background in your MBA application with tips from our expert MBA admissions consultants.