4 Ways to Prepare for B-School During Your Last Undergrad Semester:
Your final semester of college is a busy time. Most college seniors are looking for jobs, spending quality moments with friends, and trying to finish strong in their major. If you are also thinking about business school in the future, this is a great juncture to formulate an MBA plan.
Even if you aren’t applying to business school immediately—which is usually not encouraged, unless you have significant work experience—you can use this time to prepare your applications. Here are four ways to prepare for business school during your last undergrad semester.
1. Take the GMAT or GRE
Most business schools accept either the GMAT or the GRE as an admissions exam. Your GMAT and GRE scores are valid for five years, so why not take the test now and get it out of the way? It might be easier to take these exams while still in college, rather than to wait until after you’re in the working world, because as a current student you are still familiar with your best study strategies.
Take both a GMAT practice test and a GRE practice test first to determine which exam you perform better on. Then, study for the exam and schedule your test date so you have a specific goal to work toward in your prep. Consider making this the first step in your journey to business school, and give yourself time to look into extra test prep assistance if you need it, such as online tutoring.
2. Research business schools you are interested in
Would you like to study finance, marketing, or consulting? Would you like to attend school in New York, Washington, D.C., France, or Spain? Choose which factors are important to you when applying to MBA programs, and do research on those schools that fit in your scope. Look at their incoming class profiles. Note which companies their students come from and go to. Find out what these programs are looking for in their applicants.
Then, with this information, evaluate how you can use this semester to make yourself a more appealing MBA candidate. Find alumni from the schools in your network—including faculty and staff at your current college—with whom you can connect. Keep up your GPA by performing well in your classes. Assess organizations and projects you would like to participate in before you apply to business school. Look for ways to boost your resume with quality volunteer and leadership opportunities before and after graduation.
3. Visit business schools in your area
If there is a business school in your vicinity that you would like to attend, definitely visit the campus. Take a tour and sit in on classes if you can. Observe the environment. Meet the faculty and staff. Consider what you would gain from the program and what you would bring to your MBA class, so that you can incorporate these insights into your application. If there is a business school in your area that doesn’t quite meet all of your qualifications, consider taking a tour anyway simply to learn more. Even if you don’t want to attend the particular MBA program, talking with admissions officers, current students, and other business school applicants can help give you an idea of the general process and will provide you with good practice for interacting with colleagues at this level.
4. Talk with potential recommenders
You will need people to provide you with recommendations for business school, and you will need to speak with these people ahead of time. This requires preparation on your part. Set up meetings with professors, supervisors, and colleagues whom you trust and respect. Have your resume and portfolio ready to discuss incase they request more information. Tell them what you want to do, where you want to go, and how they can help you get there.
Also, know what the policies and procedures are for submitting the recommendations so that your recommenders have an idea of what to expect. Most importantly, keep in touch with these people after you graduate. Maintaining these relationships will benefit you throughout your career beyond business school.
The last semester of college is a conclusion of your undergrad experience, but it is also a good time to set yourself up for the first semester of business school. Although you may not apply to an MBA program for a few years, you can chart the direction in which you would like to go so that your bases are covered once you get there. Laying the groundwork now can help give you an advantage over many of your fellow MBA applicants. So, use this opportunity to both enjoy your last months of college and prepare yourself for the future.