By Gretchen Kernbach
There is a lot to do before submitting an exceptional MBA application to your dream school. Therefore, it is smart to start planning during your undergraduate years.
First thing to consider is if business school is right for you. Ask around about MBA degrees and see if you can even talk to someone who has graduated from business school. Ask him/her what difference it made in their life. By the time you consider applying to business school, you should have a clear idea of your targeted profession.
Ocs.fas.harvard.edu offered the following advice.
“Find out how many graduates are placed in your targeted profession by the school(s) you like. If you’re thinking about business school, have a clear sense of why and what it will do for you. Do you have the desire to lead and manage organizations? If you’ve ever been in charge of anything, did you like it? Better yet, talk to an OCS adviser about how to determine if your background, skills, and interests match what you’d like to do after business school.”
Upon interviewing workers in the current field you want to pursue, ask them how MBA degrees are viewed in that industry. Depending on the area of work, an MBA may or may not make a differencein career advances.
You have decided that business school is the path you want to take. Now is the time to plan out your class schedule to match the MBA prerequisites.
Naturally, if you plan to attend business school you should major in business to start off with. However, if you are not specifically majoring in business, it will be helpful to take classes associated with finance, financial analysis, mathematics, accounting, statistics, and micro/macro economics. According to campusexplorer.com, “experience with the Excel computer program is a big plus.”
Not only will these courses aid you in a MBA degree, the admissions program officers will also see that you have previous knowledge regarding business. In addition, according to campusexplorer.com, it shows admissions officers “that you are familiar with business and able to handle the coursework.”
Other classes to consider taking during undergraduate school include business math, business economics, and marketing.
For anyone applying to a school to get their Master’s degree, internships are key. During your four years make sure to complete one or two related jobs in your targeted field of interest. Internships include positions such as management consulting, sales, business development, financial analysis, finance clerk, or accounting.
Internships are not the only thing MBA admissions officers look for. Extracurricular activities have a big impact on preparation for business school.
Business schools look for well-rounded candidates. This means you have to excel inside the classroom, but also outside the classroom.
According to blog.ingeniusprep.com:
“When applying to a business school, highlighting extracurricular activities enables an applicant to demonstrate his soft skills or how successful he can be when dealing with ‘real world’ issues. It provides the admissions committee a good idea as to what kind of a person an applicant is through his or her interests, hobbies, and passions — helping them determine whether he or she can be a good fit to the school.”
It is a common misconception that extracurricular activities have to be business related. Actually, admissions officers are really just looking for passion in doing something that is important to you. It can range from volunteering to your own physical fitness.
However, if you are looking to partake in your school’s business activities, contact an official on campus for information on doing so. You can even ask a professor about extracurricular events open to participation.
Register and Prepare for the GMAT
First thing’s first, what is the GMAT? It is a computer test that assesses students on analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills. Even though it does not specifically test business knowledge, it is used in admission to graduate management programs. The total time of the test is three hours and 30 minutes and, unfortunately, costs $250 to take.
Forbes.com recommends a total of three to six months of preparation before taking the exam to reach your maximum potential score.
According to forbes.com:
“It is a good idea to determine a target score (which should be 20+ points above the averages at your top choice business school) before beginning your preparation so you can track your progress and have a goal to work toward. Next, take a diagnostic exam so you can identify your strengths, weaknesses, and the improvements that will be necessary to reach your target score. I strongly recommend enlisting a private tutor to supplement your self-study, as a tutor can craft a strategy tailored specifically for you based on your diagnostic exam rather than just providing you with a superficial review of the material as GMAT classes do.”
Finalizing your Application
Of course, there is an application to be filled out. This includes an essay question, recommendations, transcripts, your resume, and much more. During undergraduate school, it is important to build bonds with your professors and employers. These could be potential recommendation writers, something to always keep in mind.
Building up your resume is also an important task to undergo during undergrad. Following in the footpath of working internships and participating in extracurricular activities, the more you do the better your chances at getting accepted into an MBA program. Remember, there will be an interview. So do not think you are “in” just quite yet.
Clearly, there is a lot of preparation that should be done before applying to business school. But, in the end, it will all be worthwhile.