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Applying to Business School

Applying to Business School to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree requires plenty of planning and preparation. Keep in mind that many business schools evaluate candidates on the basis of undergraduate academic record, experience (many B-Schools want MBA students to have at least 3-5 years of professional work experience), and GMAT test scores. If you have thoroughly considered whether Business School is a good fit for you and your academic and career goals, you'll want to begin planning for Business School at least a year or two in advance. Let's take a look at the process for applying to Business School.


Two Years Before Business School

  • Research MBA schools to determine which schools are best for you. Consider location, tuition, available financial aid, age and reputation of the business school, and where graduates find work.
  • Look into part-time Business School programs or Online schools that will allow you to work and go to school at the same time.
  • Register for the GMAT and begin studying for the exam. Try to take it by the Spring before you apply, which gives you plenty of time to re-take the GMAT if you feel you need to raise your score. Set a study schedule to immerse yourself in practice test questions several days a week. Consider signing up for a GMAT prep course, or take advantage of one of the many online or software-based LSAT prep courses.
  • Get counseling advice on business school admissions. If you are still in college, you can meet with an advisor or professor who can give you information about your qualifications for business school and any special steps they recommend you take.
  • Begin thinking about who can write your recommendation letters. Professors from business courses related disciplines are great candidates, especially if you build good relationships with them. Also consider professionals in business fields with whom you have worked over the last few years, or currently.
  • Take the GMAT and evaluate your score. If you need a higher score to be considered for your top-choice business schools, register for the next available test (you can take the test up to once per month, if needed).


One Year Before Business School

  • Narrow down your list of target MBA schools. Download all application materials for the schools you plan to apply to and request any additional information or forms, if necessary.
  • Write your personal statement or essay. Begin this process well in advance of the application deadline to give yourself enough time for several drafts and to gather feedback from advisors and mentors. Try not to put too many cooks in the kitchen, but seek thoughtful, qualified, and constructive feedback. Keep in mind that many business school admissions decisions are based primarily on your GMAT test scores, undergraduate academic record, and your well-rounded world and work experience. So, it's very important that your essay conveys the breadth and depth of your experience well.
  • Update your resume (use your personal essay to expand on the work experience highlighted in your resume).
  • Gather recommendation letters from professionals, advisors, and mentors. Those writing your letters should know you well, and be well aware of your academic and professional goals that business school will help you achieve. It may be an added advantage to seek a recommendation letter from someone who attended your business school of choice.
  • Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online.
  • Fill out all application materials for each business school you are applying to. Submit all materials, and ensure your recommendation letters are sent to the appropriate office. Follow up on each application to make sure all application materials were received (if you receive a notification that your application was received in full, there is no need for further follow up).
  • Send undergraduate transcripts to the business schools you are applying to.
  • Send thank-you letters to everyone who wrote you a recommendation letter or advised you along the way of the business school application process.
  • If you are invited for an interview, make every effort to go. Try practicing interview questions with a colleague or advisor before your appointment.
  • Begin receiving your business school admission decisions. If possible, consider visiting the schools you were accepted to, helping you make a final decision.

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