The business school application can be a stressful process and one that often leaves applicants disappointed and frustrated. Hopefully these tips will make your application process easier and you can use what I have learned to achieve your dream of going to business school.
Grad School Advice: Business School Application Advice
GMAT preparation: Devote a month or two to study for the GMAT before you start applying to schools so that you can focus on the test and not worry about what score you need, writing essays and getting recommendations.
I took the GMAT right after college and thought I would ace it without studying. I was wrong and did very poorly on the test. After I failed, I enrolled in a GMAT course but still did not feel adequately prepared so I ended up putting my MBA dream on hold. After a few years, I buckled down and started studying every night after work. The second time I took the GMAT I was very relaxed and much more prepared. The only reason I did great the second time was because I was focused on one thing, the GMAT, and not all the other parts of the application that would come later.
Information Sessions: Don’t think about attending or applying to a school unless you have attended an information session.
Most of my co-workers who are interested in business school think and talk about it a lot but don’t take that next step of finding out if business school is right for them. The best way to do this is by attending an information session where you can ask questions and meet current students. I went to many information sessions before applying to schools because I found it was a great way to see if the school was right for me. I went to one school where no one talked to me and I knew I wouldn’t like the environment. Another school I went to I found that everyone was very friendly. This was the school that I eventually decided to attend but I never would have known which one was right for me if I did not attend an information session.
Recommendations: Choose someone you know and trust. Do you know about your recommender’s family and what they like to do on the weekends? If not, get to know them well before you ask them to write you a recommendation.
By making an effort to get to know your recommender, it allows them to also get to know you. Your recommendation will be much better if your recommender knows you well and thinks of you as a friend. You want your recommender to fight for you and put in the time to write a great application. Make it easy for them by giving them a list of your reasons for wanting to go back to school and your recent accomplishments at work. Most importantly, make sure you give them a thank you gift after they write you a recommendation.
More tips to survive the application process:
During interviews, be ready to explain how you can contribute and what you can teach to your classmates.
During decision time, try to not think about rankings and instead make your decision to attend the school that will make you happiest.
If you are facing a tough decision, ask those closest to you for advice. Sometimes, others know you better than yourself and can give you advice that makes the most sense.
Consider options like attending business school part-time. There are many benefits to keeping your job while going to school and sometimes you can even finish just as fast.