If you are new to the MBA application game or even if you are trying again, it never hurts to start with the basics.
As applications become available for top MBA programs, each year invites a new throng of b-school hopefuls clamoring for a seat in the class. If you are among these bright-eyed, ambitious professionals, it’s likely you have already begun to organize your approach. Whether you are applying for the first time, or returning as a re-applicant, however, there are three basic boxes you must check to pass the litmus test for MBA program application readiness…
1) Progressively responsible work experience
You’d be surprised how many applicants decide to return to graduate school before they have worked a shift in the real world. While there are certainly exceptions to every rule, in general, no business school that’s worthy of your time will allow you to enter the classroom without bringing substantial, impactful work experience. Business school is at least 50% about what you get from your classmates and the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives lends to the collective discussion in every business discipline.
2) An impressive undergrad college experience
If you graduated with a 2.0 GPA from an unranked state school, you can expect challenges getting into a top MBA program. While this is very bad news for anyone in this category, know that there are ways to overcome it, namely by bettering your pedigree through continuing education or impressive additional classroom experiences. See if you can build an alternative transcript by taking coursework at a name-brand institution. Even online courses can help if you find yourself lacking in academic prowess.
3) A stellar GMAT score
While a strong undergraduate experience can go a long way with the adcoms, a multitude of sins can be washed clean with a 7- handle on your GMAT score. Test scores directly impact a school’s reputation through the rankings, so offering a boost to a school’s average can go a long way when convincing them you are top-tier MBA material. Having trouble with the GMAT? You’re in luck, because schools will now also accept the GRE as an alternative. Often, applicants find the GRE more accessible and less intimidating, but whatever your favorite flavor of standardized test may be, make sure you are preparing adequately to post the best score you can. It’s not all about the test score by any means, but a good one can really make a difference.
If you have at least these three basic components in your arsenal, you can now move to the next step, which is to make sure you have the nuanced components which will distinguish your application from the rest.