You’ve decided to go to business school. Now what? With so many types of MBA programs available, choosing the right one for you might seem like an overwhelming task. However, using the points we outline in this post will help you determine which business schools to target given your individual profile and characteristics.
With so many options, which MBA program is best for you?
Once you have decided that you want an MBA, keep in mind these three important factors:
Your career goals
Is your intention to use the MBA as a springboard to change sectors or industries? Or do you wish to stay where you are but grow within your organization? Is your plan to start your own venture? Or do you expect to take over the family business? While the MBA will help you clarify your career goals, having an idea of what you will do after you graduate will help you determine the type of program that will best suit your professional needs.
Your academic goals
Your career aspirations should go hand in hand with the MBA curriculum. It’s important that you choose a program that will teach you what you need to know to succeed at what you want to do next in your career in both the short and long term. For instance, if your goals are in line with starting your own business, a program offering courses with an emphasis on entrepreneurship would be an ideal choice.
Your specific interests and requirements
Consider factors such as the program’s cost, reputation, location, career resources, alumni network, and extracurricular opportunities. Determining what factors are most important to you will help you narrow your search accordingly.
Along with evaluating the different programs, you need to evaluate your profile – that is, the qualifications and elements that form your MBA candidacy. These include the following:
Your undergraduate performance
Even if it has been some time since you graduated, those years in college are very important for your MBA application. Your grades will be carefully evaluated, particularly from the most rigorous courses. Any anomaly or particularly lower grades should be explained in your application.
Your GMAT or GRE score
The vast majority of MBA programs require applicants to submit a GMAT or GRE score. A lesser number accept the Executive Assessment (EA), and some allow candidates to waive the test requirement altogether if they are able to provide specific evidence of quantitative strength in their academic or professional background. For the business schools that require a test score, know that it plays a very important part in your application, particularly if your undergraduate GPA was not as strong.
Your work experience
Most programs recommend a minimum of two years of post-college work experience. Although business experience is not required, some level of leadership or management experience is ideal and can serve to improve the quality of your application. Nonetheless, there are schools that welcome candidates straight from undergrad, and some allow candidates to apply now but enroll later, once they have gained some full-time work experience (these are known as deferred MBA programs).
Your extracurricular activities
In addition to evaluating applicants’ academic performance and work experience, many programs look to see whether candidates have been involved in interesting activities outside of their job, particularly in ways that benefit the community. These activities can be as simple as coaching a local soccer team to occupying a leadership role in a volunteer organization. It’s not a requirement, but having nonprofessional, responsible roles will definitely give you an advantage.
Your English fluency
Finally, if you are an international candidate and your undergraduate courses were not taught in English, it is important that you prepare very well for any language-related exams required by the school, be it the TOEFL, IELTS, PCE, or any other exam of English as a second language.
No one is perfect, and the majority of MBA candidates are strong in some aspects but lacking in others. That’s why it’s important that you analyze each and every one of these elements and develop a plan to work on your weak points and boost your strengths.
In subsequent articles, we will explore what to do to improve or strengthen each of these areas, even the ones that appear unfixable (such as a low GPA), and you will realize that with the appropriate dedication, discipline, and commitment, you will be able to get admitted to the right MBA program for you – one that aligns with your profile and goals.Do you want a professional to help you with your MBA application? Check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages for general counseling, essay editing, interview prep, resume review, and other assistance – we have a package for every aspect of your application!
Esmeralda Cardenal is a former associate director of admissions at Yale SOM, director of MBA admissions at Michigan State University Broad, and consultant at Cardiff Business School in the United Kingdom. Since 2014, she has guided Accepted clients to acceptance in various graduate programs, including MBA and master’s in finance, business analytics, data science, sustainability, and public policy. Want Esmeralda to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!