As MBA programs are becoming more popular, getting into a good MBA program is getting harder. A successful MBA application is something you can’t just throw together at the last minute. You need plenty of time and a solid strategy in order to get into your top-choice business school.
That said, getting into the MBA program of your dreams isn’t impossible; it’s just a matter of having the right plan. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to guarantee success is to make sure the schools and programs you’re applying to are good fits for you. Choose the right references, take time to prepare for the GMAT or GRE, and get feedback on your admissions essays from at least one person. When you know what goes into a successful MBA application, and you put in the time to make sure all of those elements are in place, you’ll be well on your way to earning your graduate business degree from the school of your dreams.
Choose the Right Program
MBA admissions committees only have so many spots to offer to the many qualified applicants who send them materials each year. So, when it’s time for these committees to make decisions about who they should accept, one of the most important criteria they look for is whether or not applicants will be a good cultural fit with the organization. If you don’t think you’d be a good fit for a school, there’s a good chance you’d be wasting your time and money by applying there.
You want to choose three to eight schools to apply to. Among these programs should be your targeted choices, choices that may be kind of a stretch for your qualifications but that would still be great to be admitted to, and safety schools. Before you can choose the best programs to apply to, however, you need to research schools and programs and carefully consider your own needs. If you want to attend a traditional, on-campus MBA program, it’s a very good idea to visit the schools you’re considering and meet with the faculty before applying. If you want to earn your degree, but also need some flexibility to keep working full-time or refrain from relocating, look into some of the best MBA online programs instead.
Prepare for the GMAT (or GRE)
Most MBA programs require students to take the GMAT, but an increasing number also accept GRE scores. This is especially convenient if you’ve already earned a graduate degree, if you want to do a dual-enrollment program, or if you’re simply intimidated by the GMAT. Either way, most prospective applicants need three to six months to prepare for the exam. The best way to do so is to hire a private tutor. Find someone who has scored in the 99th percentile on their own GMAT or GRE, and who has at least two years of experience tutoring.
But, if you have several years of work experience, don’t start making preparations just yet. First, check with the admissions office at your school(s) of choice and find out if you can have the exam requirement waived. Some schools will waive testing requirements for applicants with enough relevant work experience, and that will save you tons of time and money.
Choose the Right References
When it’s time to seek recommenders for MBA programs, choose people who will be able to speak to your leadership skills and business acumen. Think professors from undergraduate business courses, mentors at work, or colleagues who have experience with your leadership skills. The better these people know you, the better their recommendation letters will be. Make sure you approach them well in advance and give them plenty of time to complete each school’s recommendation forms — at least four to six weeks.
Get Feedback on Your Application Essays
MBA application committees look to your application essay to learn about who you are as a person and why you’d be as asset to their school and program. That’s why you should let your personality shine through in your application essay. Address any faults in your application materials, whether they be with your work experience, extracurricular activities, or undergraduate GPA; being proactive and addressing these matters will allow the applications committee to see how you handle adversity.
It’s also vital to make sure that you get some feedback on your essays from someone who writes well, or more than one such person, if possible. Feedback is valuable to helping you produce a well-written, cohesive, and convincing essay. Whatever you do, don’t ignore this feedback.
Getting into the MBA program of your choice isn’t easy, but with the right strategy, it’s definitely possible. Make sure you choose the right program for you, and leave yourself plenty of time to put your application materials together, and before you know it, you’ll be walking across the stage on graduation day to receive an MBA from the school of your dreams.