5 Things Undergrads Should Do to Prepare for B-School
As summer starts to wind down, many college students are frantically trying to squeeze in a few more weekends at the beach before heading back to the dorms and classrooms. But for anyone thinking about business school or a graduate management degree, there are 5 things you can do before graduation to help you prepare for business school (or any graduate program).
1. Consider enrolling in “free” quant.
Take a look at your current transcript and course load. If you’ve managed to make it through your undergraduate experience (intentionally or not!) without setting foot in the math department, you might be in for a rude surprise when you start prepping for the GMAT or GRE. Think about adding a basic math course to your schedule, while you still have the luxury of adding an extra course to your schedule (without paying extra by the credit hour). The added bonus will be dedicated time each week that you can’t avoid or procrastinate.
2. Figure out your best self and know this will be a constant evolution.
You’ve probably grown up with individuals on positions of authority telling you what you’re good at. They’ve nurtured and supported you to sharpen those talents and be the best version of yourself. But how about some of those things you love, but might not be so great at? Jim Collins (a world renowned expert on leadership and author of “Good to Great” and a myriad of other best sellers on leadership, organizational growth and sustainability) talks about creating your own “Board of Personal Directors.” You probably think that Boards are only for corporations or non-profits, but Jim advises all young leaders to assemble a personal Board of Advisors or Directors who can help you define, see and ultimately become your best self – both personally and professionally. Select mentors not for their accomplishments or resumes, but for their character and their genuine interest in your success. They will tell you that your singing voice is probably best suited for the shower and not Broadway, but you do have an uncanny knack for finding creative and efficient ways to do things that tend to be tedious. Spending some time honing these skills will pay off in the long run.
3. Start prepping for the GMAT or GRE!
Remember, scores on both exams are good for five years, so while you’re already in studying and test-taking mode, consider carving out some time to check one thing off your grad school to-do list.
4. To MBA or MS or MF?
There are now more than 15,000 institutions around the globe offering business education degrees and more than 6,000 graduate programs that are accredited through AACSB. The MBA isn’t the only option anymore. Depending on your long-term aspirations, think about dual or joint degree programs such as an MBA/JD, MBA/MD, or MBA/Public Policy program. If you have an interest in specializing, consider the variety of specialized Masters programs (often a one year addition to your four-year degree) such as a Masters in Accounting, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Management or Marketing.
5. Get a job!
While lifeguarding or working retail to score discounted designer duds is a great way to make some extra cash while you’re in school, chances are those jobs aren’t going to set you apart from other applicants. While you’ve got some time, make an appointment with your university’s career center to work on your resume and interview skills. Create a LinkedIn profile, clean up your social media pages and start perusing internships and other jobs in fields or at organizations you’d be interested in working at one day.
There’s a lot to think about before heading back to campus in the fall, so before the summer ends, take the time and start planning out the next few years. Competition to get into your undergrad institution was stiff enough. Grad schools have significantly smaller classes (think fewer than 1,000 seats a year!) so competition will be even tougher. While you certainly don’t need to come up with all of the answers, you’ll have a huge head start on most other applicants.
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