One of the first things you’ll do when choosing where to apply to business schools is assess your profile. Otherwise, how will you know which programs will be appropriate for you? It’s best to evaluate the following four elements of your profile ASAP; the sooner you know how qualified you are, the sooner you’ll be able to generate a realistic list of target business schools.
Consider the following four profile components:
1. Your academic record
What is your GPA? What is your GMAT score? Do you have relevant coursework? Have you taken rigorous honors courses? If you have a less-than-desirable GMAT or GPA, have you taken steps to improve them or compensate (i.e. retake the GMAT or take a college-level statistics, accounting, calculus, and/or economics course to help boost your math skills)?
2. Your work experience
What sorts of jobs have you held since college? Do you show growth on the job? Do you have strong leadership experience? What strengths have you developed in past and current positions? How have you worked to iron out weak spots? Make sure you know how many years of work experience your target program requires – if you have too few or too many, you may not be competitive.
3. Your goals
What are your post-MBA goals? Start thinking about why you need an MBA – how will each MBA program on your list of potentials help you achieve your goals? You’re going to want to attend a program that has strengths that will help you realize your MBA dreams.
4. Your extracurricular activities
What are you passionate about? Which of your hobbies and interests set you apart from the rest of the highly qualified people applying to b-school? Will your target programs support your interests? Will you be able to continue involvement in your non-academic pursuits alongside your studies?
Evaluating these four factors enables you to establish both your competitiveness and establish “fit” with each of your potential programs. Assessing early (like now) also tells you what steps you need to take to become a viable candidate at schools that appear just beyond your reach. Once you can confidently say, “Hey, I can totally see myself at Top B-School X, plus, I’ve got a fair shot at getting in,” then you can sit down and begin filling out those applications!
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.