#5- DO INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS. This allow you to speak from a place of knowledge and conviction. That increases the impact of your essays and chances for an admit.
I cannot underscore this enough. Work your Linked In connections. Reach out to people over email. Some find this scary, but it’s worth it. You need to figure out if your post-MBA career goal is what you really want to do, before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve it.
Having some specifics allows you to create a more compelling vision in your essays. Next, figure out which programs are ideally suited to help you achieve them. What do you need to get from point A to point B?
Look at the special programs/curriculum/alumni network offered by each school and back out your answer from there. Obtain a clear and specific understanding of how the program for each school fits with your career goals. When they ask you, Why Duke? Why Wharton? Why Tuck? you need a clear, thought-out response.
What not to do: I like the city, and your school has a good reputation in US News & World Report. NOOOOO…..that is like saying I want to marry you because you are pretty. And it will not separate you from the competition. You need to articulate a concrete plan that demonstrates your 1) specific Post-MBA goals and 2) plan to achieve them.
#4 – Define your MBA career goals. MBA admissions committees recruit candidates who know know what they want to do, because those candidates are far more likely to leverage their time in business school for the purpose of fulfilling their goals. They are a safer investment for the schools.
Many of the people I speak with want to go to business school to figure things out and see what appeals to them. That is called READY-FIRE-AIM, and it is a colossal waste of resources. Two years will go by in a flash and all you will have to show for it is a huge bill.
When candidates have goals, they have a focus for recruitment and seem more marketable. More likely to get a job. And a safer investment for the schools.
Look within. Get some career coaching first and then figure out if this MBA thing is your ideal next step. Know the function & industry you want to be in, and why that will fulfill you. If you need an MBA to get there, great – but don’t go to business school to fix your life. Do the introspection work first. This will put you on the proper trajectory, and if you still choose to do an MBA, your essays will be more persuasive and high-impact
#3- Communication skills
MBA Schools have impromptu video questions, compulsory interviews, networking – in sum, communication skills comes into play in your application.
If you feel insecure about yours, joining a nearby chapter of Toastmasters will indicate that you proactively solve challenges. This involvement has many benefits: yes, becoming a better speaker, but also networking and receiving mentorship.
Given all the presentations you need to do in business school, getting out in front of this is your best strategy.
#2 – This one is obvious. The main premise is that you need to show academic aptitude. If your grades are bad, this has to be stellar.
Many applicants forget – GMAT prep is not like a normal class. The questions you solve will not be on the test. It’s not about learning the material and regurgitating it on test day. Doing a ton of problems won’t guarantee you a good score.
Rather, you want to develop a strategy – a replicable model – for each question type that will lead you down the path to solving the questions correctly. Also, you want to train your brain to perceive the questions in a different way. You need to learn new strategies, but also, you need to become aware of how you are perceiving and approaching the questions now.
What are your blocks and blind spots? This generally requires 1-1 interaction with an outside observer to observe and determine these things. If you are thinking about retaking the GMAT, get started early. You don’t want to be studying for the GMAT while preparing your applications. I recommend private tutoring over any commercial classes, because each student has a completely different set of strengths and weaknesses.