How Quitting Your Job Can Kill Your MBA Application

by on August 11th, 2017

When you’re applying to business school, it’s natural to want to dedicate your energy to your applications. After all, b-school applications can feel like a full-time job!

So the temptation is to quit your job and dive into researching schools, studying for the GMAT, and writing your application essays.

I talk about this all the time with people. For example, I had one client who was going to quit their job in September to concentrate on studying for the GMAT. They then planned on taking the GMAT in October and finding a new job within two months.

It sounds like a logical plan, but this approach is actually very dangerous! It relies on assumptions that could end up derailing your application.

First, what if the GMAT doesn’t work out the way you want? Will you extend your time unemployed to take it again? If you don’t, now you have a less than desirable GMAT score and a sketchy work history—and if you do, you’re doubling down on being unemployed.

Second, and maybe even more serious, is that even if you do well on the GMAT, it’s easy to underestimate how long it’ll take to get a new job. And since you’re applying to business school, the stakes are very high.

For adcoms, being unemployed is a red flag—even if you’re unemployed because you wanted to study for the GMAT. After all, your work is a core part of who you are as an applicant.

Given the choice between an applicant who’s employed and one who’s not, adcoms will always choose the person with the job. It’s not even close. And they are not understanding of your need to take time off to study for the exam. After all many of the applicants you are being compared to were able to study, take the GMAT, and earn a high score.

Another way to think of it is that schools are looking for candidates who will excel after graduating. And they know a checkered work history could come back to haunt you when you go back on the job market. And your not landing a job will become a problem that would hurt their employment statistics.

The bottom line, then, is that if you’re applying to business school, make sure you’re applying while you have a job.

If that means finding other ways to make time for your application, like taking a leave from work for a couple weeks to study for the GMAT, that’s fine. Just make sure you apply as someone who’s employed. Some applicants have been able to take longer time off depending on their employer.

Business schools are looking for students who are running toward something, not ones who are running away from something.

Having a job that you thrive in indicates that you’re applying to business school because you’re reaching for a positive future. Applying while you’re unemployed, on the other hand, suggests that you could be going to b-school to escape a negative situation.

Of course, what you do once you have an offer of admission in hand is up to you. But to get that offer in the first place, make sure you prioritize having a job when you apply!

For personalized advice on your strategy for applying to business school, or for an assessment of what schools are your best fits, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

The post How Quitting Your Job Can Kill Your MBA Application appeared first on EXPARTUS.

1 comment

  • Hi,
    I have read through the article carefully, and while you make some valid points, I have alternative views on explaining the situation. I have recently done just what this article advises not to do, due to the reasons stated below:
    i) I am a relatively new immigrant to a developed first-world country (from an under-developed country), having educational credentials and five years' work experience in business management. Moving to North America and consistently working in roles that are well-below than what I am equipped to do, I realized that to genuinely compete in this market, I need local academic credentials as well as work experience. MBA is a natural and logical answer to fast-track that goal with my business background. That along with my desire to receive higher education to accelerate my career and continue the learning process (as a life-goal in itself) made my conviction even stronger to pursue an MBA.
    ii)My most recent job, an entry level position in a business support department, was taking up a major portion of my day (approx. 12 hours every day) leaving very little time and mental energy for me to focus on GMAT preparation and overall b-school application (please take in to account that everyone has different physical stamina). While being recognized at work for my efforts, the daily grind of work volume and cultural adjustment challenges drained me completely at the end of the day.
    iii)Lastly, and as a cementing factor, my father is travelling to North America in the upcoming month to receive treatment for a long-standing ailment. As there is no one else to take care of him except me while he is being treated, I have to prioritize my life accordingly.
    iv)Meanwhile, I am actively volunteering in my local community with immigrant settlement services and community helping (drug and addiction counselling); this free time also allows me the opportunity and flexibility to bring my entrepreneurial spirit to life by opening up a small home venture.
    iv) I extensively considered the possibilities of getting in to the MBA program while being employed vs. unemployed; I did realize it was an important factor that could effect my application and one that I would need to out-weigh with the rest of the components. However, I would not have pegged this to be something that can potentially "kill my application" (a very fatalistic view I believe!).
    I would appreciate it if you can take some time responding to the points I raised as well as offering advice on how I can address the concerns that you raised in your article.
    Thank you,

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