The Journey to Your MBA: Getting Started
This post was written by our friends at tuck.dartmouth.edu
Congratulations! An MBA is a great way to advance your current career or make a career switch. Though it may seem like you have a long journey ahead, you’re already on the right track by starting the process early. Use this list to frame your next steps. While some tips are more straightforward than others, all are incredibly important. Don't sell yourself short. When you hit submit, feel confident that you are presenting your best possible application. Good luck - we look forward to getting to know you along the way!
1) Develop a system to keep everything organized.
2) Get the GMAT out of the way.
Spend the necessary time studying for it, and then take it as soon as you can and well in advance of your application. That way if you aren’t happy with your score and need to take it again, you will have plenty of time. Each year we have applicants who put if off until right before they are submitting their application, don’t do well and then they are stuck. Plus, once you know your GMAT score, you will have a better sense of what schools are within your reach and what schools might be more of a stretch to get into. Tuck, like most schools, does not require a minimum GMAT score, and we accept a wide range of scores, so if you are below the average GMAT, don’t write the school off. But if your GMAT score is significantly below the school’s average, you might want to think about retaking it or adjusting your list of target schools. Once the GMAT is behind you, you can focus your energy on the next steps of finding the right school and preparing your application.
3) Assess your quantitative background.
4) Start researching schools.
Do your homework to figure out which schools best meet your needs. There are lots of ways to do this, and we caution you against just relying on the rankings. That can be a great way to start, but there are much better ways to learn about each school. Dig deep into school websites for information about the program. Attend school informational events in your city – Tuck will be travelling around the world in the fall, hosting events for applicants to learn about our program and meet some of our alums. A list of events and dates is posted on our website. You can also meet school representatives at various MBA fairs. Talk to alums from as many schools as you can to learn about their experiences. You can go to the “Tuck Connections” section on our website, and we will put you in touch with a Tuckie. Finally, we really encourage you to visit the schools you are applying to. Yes, the travel can be a little expensive, but when you put it into perspective by comparing it to the overall cost of an MBA, it is very little. An MBA is a big investment in terms of money and time, so you want to make sure that you have picked the right school for you. While on campus, sit in on a class and be sure to talk to the students. As you look at schools, don’t ignore your gut. That intangible “fit” is important. Think about how you will fit into the program. What’s the culture like? What will you contribute? Can you see yourself actually being a part of the community?
5) Take the time to do some major self-reflection.
Successful applicants can clearly and articulately communicate why they want an MBA, how it will help them reach their goals, and why this is the right time to pursue it. Furthermore, they know the school they’re applying to. All elite b-schools have top-notch faculty, rigorous curriculum, and access to jobs with the world’s leading companies and organizations. Successful applicants know what sets the programs they are applying to apart. They are also able to talk about what excites them, how they hope to make an impact while they are at school (and beyond), and they have great questions that delve deeper into the essence of each school. They have a high level of self-awareness and can talk confidently about their strengths and weaknesses, their short-and long-term goals, and the unique talents and experiences they will bring to the classroom and the community. They have taken the time to be introspective, enabling them to know definitively what they’re looking for in an MBA-program, and why. They know the community they’re looking for, and why a particular culture works best with their circumstances and personality.
6) Assure you have the kind of relationships with your supervisors you’ll need for a great recommendation.
7) Start thinking about your finances.
8) Follow your passions – don’t start doing things just because you think the Admissions Committee will be impressed.
January 28, 2015