Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Apply with Your Partner

Everyone has different criteria for selecting which schools to apply to, but this decision becomes even more challenging when your partner is also applying to business school. This was one of my challenges in the application process and a structured approach helped to ensure that my partner and I were both happy with the result.
First, start early. Aim to apply in the first round. But before you think about specific schools, it helps to agree on a few principles. Are you and your partner set on attending the same school? Or would the same city or region be sufficient? You’ll want to consider cost in this decision, as paying two rents might not be feasible. If you prefer to attend the same school, do you have a dream school that would be an exception? What will you do if only one of you is admitted to that dream school? Establishing these principles early will help you decide where to apply and will mitigate stress as you receive decisions.

Next, do your research. Some schools value couples and will go out of their way not to admit one of you and not the other. Others clearly state that they have no preference. Still others are known for often admitting only one member of a couple. While it’s not always easy to find this information, you should look out for a few clues. First, see if the application includes a spot to apply as a couple. Second, ask the Admissions Office or a host student how many student couples come to school together. This should give you an idea of how friendly a school is to couples.
Narrow down your list of schools and segment it into first round and second round—just in case. This way you won’t be caught completely off guard if the first round doesn’t work out as you had hoped. Once you select which schools to apply to, be honest. If you absolutely would not attend the school unless you were both admitted, say that in your interview. Just make sure not to say it if it isn’t true. At the same time, be careful not to turn your interview into a “couples” interview. The interview is your time to shine, so you should focus on your accomplishments and goals, and let your partner focus on theirs.

Once you’re admitted and select a school, there are a couple more things to consider. Give the financial aid office a call and see if they have suggestions for couples. If your school has first year “sections,” express a preference to be in a different section than your partner in order to maximize your learning and networking opportunities. You might also ask Admissions to set you up with another partner couple to chat about their experience and get their advice.
I hope this helps you navigate the application process. Good luck!

Ellen Cory, Forte FellowClass of 2014, The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

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