Am I Ready to Apply to B-School? 7 Questions to Answer First
With summer fully upon us, business schools throughout the country are starting to unveil their 2017 MBA essay prompts. It’s a natural time to start thinking about applying for an MBA. But before you get into the often-arduous application process, it’s a good idea to ask yourself some questions about your b-school plans:
1. Am I sure I want to go back to school?
Much like having a child, business school is one of those things that you know is going to be life-changing and completely time-consuming, but it’s hard to really appreciate the effects it will have until you’re in the thick of it.
Before you start getting your applications together, try to think through what your life will really be like once you’re back in the swing of school. Informational interviews are an absolute must—not just with MBA grads who’ve made it through the program and are reaping the benefits, but with current students who can give you a real picture of the challenges and hard work you’re going to have to get through to get the degree.
2. Can I handle leaving the workforce for up to two years?
MBA programs come in a lot of different varieties, and not all programs require students to leave their career (at least temporarily) behind. But the reality is that most of the top MBA programs in the United States are full-time, on-campus programs, which require students to suspend their careers and live off of savings or student loans for the duration of the program.
If that doesn’t sound like a step you’re ready to take, it doesn’t mean that you’re not cut out for business school. It just means that you should explore another b-school option (like a part-time MBA, online MBA, or one-year MBA), or perhaps delay your application for a year or two until you feel like you’re in a better place to pause your career.
3. Do I have enough experience to make the most of my time in an MBA program?
Most top MBA programs report an “average” student experience level of 3-5 years, with a range that is generally much broader, often 0-10 years of experience. But of course, the quality of that experience varies hugely, as does it’s relevance to the student’s post-MBA plans.
If you’re thinking about business school, you need to first be able to convince yourself that you’re ready to take advantage of the experience. Having “enough” experience is all about being able to understand multiple perspectives, and being open to applying your knowledge going forward.
4. Do I have the skills in place to be admitted to b-school?
You may be emotionally ready, financially ready, and experientially ready for business school, but if you don’t have the skills, you aren’t getting in. Before you even think about applying, you need to do an honest assessment of your educational background, as well as your quantitative and verbal skills. You need to be able to score well on the GMAT or GRE, and have either the undergraduate or post-graduate quantitative experience to show you can handle your b-school coursework. International students who have studied in non-English environments have to have strong TOEFL scores to demonstrate their English proficiency.
5. What do I want my career path to look like?
Going to business school should be about accomplishing something specific, not just taking the next step because you aren’t sure what else to do. Admissions committees want to see applicants who have thought through their path forward, and know that an MBA program is only step one on that path.
6. What steps can I take to achieve my career goals?
If getting into business school is only step one on your career path, you need to know what the other steps look like. Not only will admissions committees be impressed when you arrive at your MBA interview with a list of internships you’re interested in and extracurriculars that will benefit your professional growth, but you will also be well-prepared to make the most out of your time in school.
7. What do I need from a b-school in order to accomplish my goals?
Like every good interview, your application to an MBA program and interaction with the admissions committee shouldn’t be all about making them see what a great candidate you are. It should also be about you determining whether the school is a good fit for your personal career goals. If you’ve been dreaming of, and planning for, a career in consulting, then a school that focuses heavily on finance placements may not be the right choice for you, no matter how highly it’s ranked.
Before you begin applying to MBA programs, spend some time thinking about what you want from your b-school experience: location, internship opportunities, faculty, concentrations, and global experiences will all play a significant role in shaping your career for years to come, so you want to be sure you’re applying to a place that will meet all your b-school needs.
Whether you’re thinking about an early-career MBA or ready to take the next step in your current role, getting all your ducks in a row is an absolute must when it comes to applying for an MBA. If you want help developing your personal brand, mitigating weak area in your application, and developing compelling essay responses, EXPARTUS can help. Visit our Services page or get in touch with us at email@example.com to learn more about how we help applicants become the clear choice for their target business schools.
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