While some business undergrads will go straight to the workforce upon receiving a diploma and others will go on to various master’s degree programs, a fair number will elect to take the GMAT and apply for admission at a top business school in order to earn an MBA. And like most advanced degrees, the admissions process can be fairly demanding and competitive. This means that applicants really need to have all their ducks in a row when they submit an application. So here are just a few dos and don’ts that will help you to land a spot at your business school of choice.
- Apply early. The earlier you apply for an MBA program, the better chance you’ll have of getting in. A late application is obviously a terrible idea; even if they allow for late applications you’ll likely lose points for failing to meet the deadline. But even beyond that, you may receive early consideration for admission and even early notification of acceptance by filing paperwork ahead of the curve. And the truth is that you have nothing to lose by sending in your application early, especially if everything is in order well ahead of the due date.
- Secure good references. If you have done your due diligence in your undergrad program you should have no trouble getting respected professors and advisors to write references for you. In fact, you might want to do this even if you’re not certain that you’re going to grad school so that you have them on hand when you need them (and you don’t have to go back and ask when your work is no longer fresh in their memory).
- Study hard for the GMAT. It is imperative to score well on this standardized test since it could be a determining factor in the admissions process. The exam demonstrates your knowledge in the field of business, so if you don’t ace it, you’ve already proven yourself unprepared for a master’s program.
- Rush your application. While you certainly don’t want to miss deadlines, you might do more harm than good by submitting your applications in haste. Once you have filled out the questionnaire, added your essays and references, included test scores, and called for official transcripts, you need to go over everything with a fine-tooth comb. This means checking for spelling and grammatical errors, ensuring that you have every document required for the application process, and making sure that the entire packet is as perfect as it can possibly be. When you hurry the process you’re bound to miss something important.
- Fake references. It can be tempting to write your own letters of reference and have people sign them (especially if you didn’t take the time to get to know any of your professors well during your bachelor’s program). Or you might think it’s no big deal to simply drop the name of a prominent professor in order to get a foot in the door. However, this is a mistake. Don’t think that your references won’t be checked at some point during the process, because they certainly will. And this type of dishonesty will get you blacklisted. Even if teachers agree to sign letters of reference you drafted, you want them to know you well enough that they can talk you up when they get a call from the MBA admissions board.
- Rely solely on your GMAT score. Whether you’re applying for Harvard Business School or you’ll settle for an executive MBA online, you should know that there’s more to getting accepted than your GMAT score. While it can weigh heavily in the admissions process, the truth is that you also need a stellar GPA, great references, some killer essays, and perhaps even an internship under your belt if you want to beat out the competition.