An MBA is a valuable degree for anyone going into business or aiming to hold a leadership position in almost any industry. Of course, the most marketable degrees are those from the top schools, like Harvard and MIT. Getting into a good school can be a challenge, but prospective students can increase their chances if they prepare themselves well. The following are some tips for making a successful application.
Start Building a Resume Early
Before applying to business school, applicants need a resume with several years of real-world experience. Most MBA programs today are not interested in students who are coming straight from college. Instead, they want to see that students already have some professional knowledge and skills to build on. When writing a resume for business school, applicants should demonstrate how they contributed to achieving success in each job, internship, or volunteer activity they list.
Ace the GMAT
The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is a computer-based test designed to evaluate a student’s ability to do graduate-level work in business school. The test includes a section on analytical writing, integrated reading, verbal skills, and math skills. Most students cannot expect to achieve a high score without studying and taking many practice tests. Students can purchase materials for practice or sign up for a GMAT prep course. A helpful tip is to practice with a timer in order to get used to the timing of the test sections.
Write a Memorable Application Essay
Application essays typically ask for some kind of personal reflection on topics like goals, identity, values, contributions, and leadership. While most schools will ask for a written document, some are now requiring a video essay. A successful essay is not only well-written, but it also shows that the writer is unique, passionate about certain topics or issues, and goal-oriented. It’s a good idea to go beyond academics and share other activities and interests.
Collect Letters of Recommendation
Recommendation letters are an important part of any application because they give admissions officers more information about a prospective student’s personality, skills, and work ethic. Applicants need to request letters from people who know them well, who have seen the quality of their work (either professional or academic), and who will have positive things to say.
Hire a Coach
The application process can be complex and intense, and many students can benefit from hiring a coach to guide them through the process and advise them at each step. An experienced coach can help applicants identify and improve weaknesses that might keep them from getting a high GMAT score, write a stellar essay, or ace an in-person interview. Check out this Personal MBA Coach on LinkedIn to learn more.
Applying to business school requires an investment of time and effort, but the rewards of getting into a top MBA program will pay off in the long run. MBA graduates not only go on to have successful careers in business, but they have the chance to develop valuable personal traits, like self-confidence, creative thinking, and communication skills.