Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Applying for your MBA? What Matters Most on the Path to Admissions

I'll never forget how nervous I was when I was first started applying for my MBA. The whole process can feel like a terrifying experience when you first start applying to schools, but should you put in the work and time, you'll be accepted to a great program and on your way to obtaining your MBA in no time.

Looking back, I wish I had someone to help me get through the MBA application process. Don't get wrong; the application itself wasn't hard to figure out. The most difficult process was knowing what areas I should focus the most energy on, whether it be my GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, work experiences, or volunteer time. If you're about to start the MBA application process, here are four areas you should focus on the most.

Work Experiences
It's easy to say you have an interest in something; it's an entirely different story to prove that you do. Before turning in your MBA application, make sure to draw attention to any and all work experiences that indicate you have a strong interest in business administration. People with all different kinds of majors eventually decide to get their MBA, but what matters most to admissions is what you did with your degree(s) after college. If you have absolutely no work experience, perhaps it would be a good idea to take a job at an evolving, ambitious company for a while and mention that unique experience when you decide to apply for your MBA the second time around.

Letters of Recommendation
On paper, we can make ourselves sound fantastic, but without people to back us up, we are just spouting a bias point of view. Whenever you're applying for your MBA, seek out those teachers, mentors, and colleagues who inspired you to drive forward in your career and ask them to write your letters of recommendation. It's always best to choose someone who knows you and your work ethic very well, so your letter will sound genuine as opposed to generic.

I think essays are the most important part of the admission process. Think of it this way: the essay is the only place in the whole application process that you really get to express your passion, creativity, ambition, and enthusiasm. Through your words, you'll be able to emphasize why it is you want an MBA and what you plan to do with it years down the road. Never underestimate the importance of essays because the last thing you want to do is put your enrollment opportunity in jeopardy just because you didn't care enough to write one or two essays well.

Academic Performance
Sorry to break the news to you, but your prior academic performance is one of the most important things to MBA admissions. So if you did extraordinarily well during your bachelor's or master's degree program, that's great; make sure to highlight that in your application. If you didn't do that well, perhaps you should focus more on the areas in which you did succeed, such as work experiences, awards, volunteering, etc. It's not a complete deal breaker if you didn't get straight A's in college, but just remember that an MBA is an educational program, so you'll certainly have to put in the work to do well when and if you do get accepted to a program.

GMAT Scores
Last but certainly not least, the GMAT is one of the most important factors in applying for a good MBA program. The GMAT is a strong indicator of your potential for academic success, so it's important that you dedicate enough time preparing for this required exam. If you've been out of college for a few years, it's probably best you spend a little extra time studying for this exam. Should you not do all that well on the GMAT, however, you can always take the test over again, and although your GMAT score is important, it's only one part of the admissions process. To get into a great MBA program, focus on creating a well-rounded application and don't fret too much over your GMAT scores.

Getting an MBA isn't for everyone, but should you find yourself interested in getting a business administration degree, make sure to put the most work into these four areas of your application.

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