We recently asked our latest group of clients: What is one piece of advice you’d offer to future MBAs? Here are the responses we received.  (Notice some common themes…?)

  • Prepare early and plan ahead with the application timeline
  • Work hard at getting to know each program you are applying to. Really get to know students who are attending these programs because they are the ones who will be able to speak the most candidly and honestly about what the school has to offer.
  • Begin studying for the GMAT at least 10-12 months before you want to begin your applications (which should be started 3 months before the deadline). I would also recommend polishing/finishing your resume during this time period. With a decent score knocked out of the way along with a completed resume, the applicant can truly concentrate on putting together a coherent and tailored application to each school.
  • Start early and talk to as many people as possible (colleagues, friends, alumni, current students). That really helped me to shape my story.
  • Start early, drafting takes longer than you think. (And don’t get married during R1.)
  • Research each school thoroughly.
  • Visit the schools before applying if you can. It’s easier to add a personal touch to your essays if you can envision yourself there.  Also go to the information sessions – you never know who you’ll meet!
  • Prep your recommenders as much as you can!
  • Start early and plan ahead!!
  • Your GMAT score is more important to admissions than one might think – or admissions conveys to you.
  • Every piece of the application takes longer than expected.
  • Take the INSEAD test instead of the GMAT (for those applying to INSEAD’s EMBA programme)
  • Don’t stress about things you can’t control.  Once the application is in, you just have to wait!
  • Hire Shine!**
  • Get an MBA consultant.  The sooner the better.  I personally did not realize that one could work with a consultant up to say 9 months to a year in advance of applications, and that a consultant could provide assistance on selecting schools, etc.  Looking back, had someone given me the advice to get started with a consultant (Shine!)* much earlier, that might have been helpful
  • Go to information sessions. Schools provide a lot of information here that they do not formally communicate (e.g., we don’t even evaluate the new part of the GMAT rated on a 1-7 scale, we are looking the most for X, Y, and Z in your essays, A, B, and C in your recs).
  • Start the process as early as possible. I reached out to Hillary over 6 months in advance of the deadlines and I would suggest everyone to do the same.
  • Network hard. Network as much as possible beforehand and scan your network to connect with everyone at schools you’re interested in. I found this to be very helpful for picking up small details from each conversation that added up to help my application. Each call may take time to set up and may take a ½-hour discussion out of your day, but their perspectives and tidbits of advice can go a long way. For instance, speaking with one friend who mentioned how they made clear a school was a first choice in their application essay was something I hadn’t heard of, but was a very valuable takeaway from our discussion. Leave no student unturned!
  • Start earlier than you think you need to and apply to as many schools as possible.
  • Get the GMAT out of the way early, so you can focus exclusively on your essays when you’re writing them.
  • Get an admissions consultant :)
  • Lock in the GMAT score you’re happy with well before you actually apply – give yourself a major break between GMAT time and application time (multiple months if not a year or two). And ideally visit the schools and go through whatever decision process you’re going to do about pursuing an MBA before you even decide to make the GMAT investment.
  • Plan ahead!! Make sure you schedule enough time in the application process to take the GMAT, understand what schools are realistic based on your background and GMAT score, and visit those schools. It will save a ton of time on the backend and ensure that you know what you really want by the time you get to the interview process.
  • Create a calendar with due dates and stick to it, religiously. Have Shine collaborate on said schedule and ensure mutual buy-in. In order to be successful, the application process will have to become equally demanding of your time as your job or other major life demands.
  • Develop conviction in and passion for your story. It’s easy to “sell” in interviews if you truly believe your “why MBA” and career path.
  • Start very early! Especially important to get the GMAT out of the way as far in advance as possible. And if you get waitlisted, don’t give up, be persistent!
  • Write honestly and genuinely.
  • Try not to be nervous in interviews! Do whatever you need to calm yourself beforehand
  • Write honestly and genuinely
  • Outline first and talk with people (especially Shine) before investing time in writing.
  • If you don’t have a clear story, pick one early on in the process and run with it.
  • Talk to as many current students and alumni as you can to get a sense of the schools you would want to apply to and attend.
  • Try not to stress over what you cannot control. Once the application is in find a distraction.
  • Visit Campus before applying
  • Work with Hillary**, do your research on the schools, connect with alumni
  • Have a plan B if grad school doesn’t work out
  • Be open to consider other programs that you didn’t consider from the beginning.
  • Make a long-term plan and start building out a resume with a business school in mind
  • Get to know each school as well as you can, and plan ahead in doing so: Visit campus (ideally well ahead of interviewing/submitting an application), talk to as many students and alumni as possible, and attend school-hosted events in your area.  (I found school-specific events far more helpful than multi-school events.)
  • Really dig deep and determine why you want/need to go to business school and how it will help you achieve your goals. Without knowing why you want to be there, it’s difficult to sell the admissions officers on why you should get a spot at their school.

** We couldn’t make this up

Best of luck to those about to embark on this exciting endeavor. We look forward to the opportunity to help you through the application process.

[For help with preparing your business school applications, or for general MBA admissions advice, contact us at info@shineadmissions.com]

© Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting, June 10, 2018, 3:48pm PT