Next up in our series of featured MBA bloggers is mbaover30, author of the blog, MBA Over 30. Please enjoy this “older applicant’s” thoughtful answers and use them to help you make your way through the MBA admissions process.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to college and when did you graduate; and what prior degrees do you hold?
mbaover30: I live in Los Angeles but I’m originally from Florida, where I earned a BS in electrical engineering at Florida A&M University at the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering.
Accepted: When do you plan on applying to business school? Which schools will you apply to?
mbaover30: I plan on applying this fall. My current list of schools includes Wharton, Stanford, Harvard, Booth, Berkeley, Tuck, Kellogg, MIT, and Yale; however, that list may get shaved down by 2-3 over the next few months as I continue to research each program and determine which of them best fit my goals.
Accepted: Why do you want to go to business school?
mbaover30: During my career, I’ve worked in sales, marketing and operations. I’ve also tried my hand at a couple of small entrepreneurial projects over the years. This combo has afforded me the opportunity to see a company from several of its most critical perspectives. I’d like to get an MBA to strengthen my finance and general management skills so that I can found and run my own company (in the same industry that I work in now) after a brief stint in a GM role.
Accepted: Many people your age and with your work experience would consider an Executive MBA. Why do you think a full-time MBA is better suited for you?
mbaover30: The EMBA is an excellent degree for someone who is looking to stay in the same job function and industry—perhaps with the same company—with the potential of being promoted. By contrast, I am a career switcher who is looking to transition from part time entrepreneur in one industry to full time employer in a completely different industry. The gap between my current skills and those I will need to successfully make that transition would be best filled by what I would learn as a result of the transformation that takes place in a full time MBA program.
Accepted: I see you’ve joined the GMAT 700 Club. Congrats! Can you tell us a bit about how you prepared for the GMAT?
mbaover30: Sure. During my GMAT prep, I was very disciplined about taking time out of nearly each day to familiarize myself with the material and increase my speed and level of pattern recognition. Working through a large volume of quant problems in particular made me generally familiar with each type of problem within the finite universe of skills that the exam tests for. That notwithstanding, if I could do it all over I would invest more time into reviewing quant problems (in lieu of simply burning through more problems). I would also begin taking CAT exams a least one month prior to my test date to identify any weaknesses in enough time to fix them. I did neither of these during this run, but am still proud of my performance. I am strongly considering a retake; however, the GMAT is no longer my top priority now that I am within the 80 percentile range for each school. I will focus on the quality of my applications during the next several months and retake the GMAT only if it makes sense within the context of A) feeling confident about my chances of adding another 30+ points to my score and B) not sacrificing the quality of my applications.
Accepted: What did you think of the new IR section?
mbaover30: I think that the idea is a good step in the direction that schools would like the test to go in further analyzing analytical ability; but I also think it is incomplete. If the test makers would really like to have this section add value then I would suggest that they cut the questions from 12 to 3 or 4 and include a writing component. Any analyst can tell you what’s going on in a graph; however, directors and c-level executives need to not only be able to interpret the numbers but make a sound business decision based on the data shown. I’m also of the opinion that said writing component would help schools to better distinguish between candidates who can merely interpret data and those who possess the critical reasons skills and good judgment to make sound business decisions with it.
I found the IR section to be a bit irritating, though I will admit to the fact that this is partially because I did not prepare for it as well as I had planned. By waiting too long to test my skills with a practice exam, I discovered weaknesses late in the game that necessitated that I prioritize working on those over the intensive IR prep that I had planned. My personal prep notwithstanding, it would be a much more useful section if it functioned less like a graph interpretation and more like solving an actual business case based on the data presented.
Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your MBA admissions journey?
mbaover30: I decided to blog about my process for three reasons. First, I needed to relieve some of the pressure that I was feeling while preparing for the GMAT. There is so much pressure around the results of that exam and blogging became a source of catharsis for me. Second, I did not see anyone blogging from the 30something perspective, so I decided to take the initiative to do it myself. Third, I hoped that it would provide a reference point for other applicants in the way that some of the more popular blogs from the previous year provided a reference point for me during my research.
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