Congratulations! You are thinking about applying for business school! Research shows that over 88% of all employers look for candidates who have an MBA, so making this step in your professional development will be incredibly beneficial to your future. When taking steps to prepare for b-school, you want to ensure that you are using your time effectively.
That’s why we have compiled the seven most valuable tips for anybody who wants to prepare for b-school.
Tip #1: Define Your Why (and Your What) to Prepare for B-School
The very first step you must take to prepare for b-school is to define your why and your what. Simple in concept, this might be the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Why do you want to go to b-school? Is it because you want to get further in your career? Because you’ve hit a crossroads? Because your family is expects you to? Or is it something entirely different?
The fact is, there is probably a million different why’s each year for students hoping to be accepted into b-school, but until you define your why you won’t have the focus you will need to be successful.
Once you have identified your why you will be able to use it as the light at the end of the tunnel that you are achieving your goal.
Next, you must define your what. What are you going to do? Which program that best fits your needs? What is it that you need to make that next big step in your career?
These questions should guide your research.
Tip #2: Research
If you want to prepare for b-school, there are many things that you must research. When you study, you are becoming an expert in this new change in your life. While you may not know yet, you will have enough information to decide where you want to go to b-school.
When you research, you will also be able to begin digging into the vast library of personal development, business philosophy, and strategy resources that are available (and often on b-school reading lists).
Since you will be doing a lot of research in your b-school program, there is no reason to delay! Begin researching as soon as possible to get ahead of the curve and start your journey to prepare for b-school.
Research Your Options to Prepare for B-School
To find the best program for you, you must research the various b-schools in the United States. Things to consider when researching your options include:
- Location: Do you want to relocate somewhere or stay close to home? Would you like an urban campus? Can you live in a climate where the school is located? All of these questions should be considered when researching where you want to go to b-school since you will be spending some time in the location while you’re in your program. Try to approach this decision logically, and weigh the pros and cons of each option to make sure that it’ll be a good fit for you. For instance, if you’re social by nature and enjoy cultural events like going to the theater, a location like Wyoming wouldn’t suit your needs.
- Cost: Consider the cost of the program and the cost of living in the area you would be moving to. Is this a feasible option for you? For example, the total program cost for a non-resident to attend the University of Washington’s MBA program is approximately $108,000. This does not include the additional fees of around $31,000 of estimated living expenses and additional program fees. As a student, there will be a few options for you to finance this education, apply for scholarships, and even earn an income during your second year of the program, but when researching the programs you are interested in, consider the cost and long-term commitment you are making to enter into a b-school program.
- Admissions rates: You must also research the admission rates of certain programs when you begin to prepare for b-school. Begin preparing as soon as possible (even early in your undergrad) to set yourself up for success. Consider your undergrad GPA, GMAT score, and strength of your application against other applicants applying for the same spots in programs. Do you have a realistic shot? Students with a 2.6 GPA, while may have a lot of heart, will most likely not impress the admissions board at the nation’s most prestigious universities.
- Program Focus: Identify if the programs you are interested in offer a focus in your preferred areas. To prepare for b-school, consider one of the following common emphases: business analytics, consulting, real estate, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, supply chain management, and more. If you know where you want to spend your energy, you will find a school that offers specific courses that will add value to your education.
Research the Craft
Since you will be fully immersing yourself in b-school, consider starting to read field-specific literature for personal development. There are millions of books available to promote a deeper understanding of leadership, business, and more, but here is a list of some of the most commonly cited and discussed books in b-school.
Tip #3: Talk with Your Network
B-schools like students who are highly communicative and network-minded. Discuss your goals with people in your network who could help guide your decisions. This is a great time to talk with alumni of specific programs, corporate executives who can help direct you in what programs will serve you, and more.
Additionally, your network will be a valuable asset during the application process, since they will most likely be the people who will be providing your recommendations. Make sure that your network is filled with reliable people who will communicate your strengths to prospective programs.
Programs will penalize you for people who do not submit recommendations, often seeing it as a sign of your inability to manage the people in your network. When selected people who will serve as your references, make sure they are the best options for the responsibility.
Tip #4: Study for the GMAT or GRE
Studies indicate that students should spend between 3-6 months preparing for the GMAT/GRE assessments. When you are preparing for these assessments, there are a few routes that you can go to maximize your score.
Experts agree that using some sort of diagnostic tool, in the beginning, is the surest way to identify problem areas and fix them early in the studying process.
A diagnostic tool, like a sample assessment, will give you a good idea of the layout and time constraints of the evaluation.
If you are looking to boost your scores, you will find that there are many options for in-person, online, and workbook resources.
Many prep programs can be costly, which is hard for many people to manage on top of living expenses, preparing for b-school, and more. ArgoPrep has created a GRE prep program that will help boost scores at a fraction of the cost.
With video explanations of every problem, plus an online library filled with additional practice problems, ArgoPrep is a perfect option for students who want to boost their GRE scores.
Tip #5: Think Like a Local
Once you have committed to an MBA program, it’s important to start figuring out the details of your day-to-day life before you begin school. Research the city where you will be living. Where does everybody go grocery shopping? Where are good places to study? What do people do for exercise?
By answering these questions before starting your MBA, you will be able to settle into your routine comfortably while managing your school responsibilities.
Find students who are further along in the program, locals, and school resources to answer questions that will help de-stress your routine.
Tip #6: Be a Tree
Once you have decided upon an MBA program and have been accepted, start researching. Find out how you can build your community to succeed in your new program.
Many MBA programs have Facebook groups, Slack channels, and community announcement boards to relay information to students.
Use these social networking platforms to join an extracurricular, study group, or find valuable meeting dates for your class.
Think of yourself as a tree. When a tree is growing, it is getting larger above ground while simultaneously putting roots down underground. When the weather gets harsh and windy, a tree without roots is more likely to be ripped out of the ground.
So, how do trees get strong roots? They stay healthy by getting sunlight, water, and continuing to drive their roots deeper into the ground.
When you are getting ready to prepare for b-school, think of yourself as a tree. When you take steps to get healthy by joining study groups, establishing routines, and practicing healthy habits, you’re more likely to be able to withstand storms when they come (and they will come).
Tip #7: Go for a Test Drive
If you are preparing to begin your MBA, it may be helpful to enroll in an online business school primer course to prepare for the content and rigor of the MBA program.
Whether you have just graduated from your undergrad or it’s been many years since you’ve been in a classroom, a soft reintroduction of a business class will be easier to get your land legs than jumping into your first MBA course.
This course is perfect for students preparing to dive into an MBA course. It is a three-level program that culminates in a final exam. This course will give you exposure to real-life challenges, discussion opportunities, and working with peers in an online format (valuable skills for students preparing for an MBA program).
These classes can help you prepare for the online elements of a course, reading volume, and even remind you of appropriate classroom etiquette.
It’s Time to Prepare for B-School
Applying for and getting accepted to any MBA program is an impressive feat. With notoriously difficult application processes and low acceptance rates, it’s easy to understand why students want to prepare for b-school.
Approach your application process with a hunger. This hunger will drive you to learn more, research, stay passionate, talk with others, and ultimately help you reach your goal of attending an MBA program that fits your aspirations.
ArgoPrep is here to help. With our award-winning GRE prep resources, you will be on your way to earning the best scores possible.
Have a tip for preparing for b-school? Let us know in the comments below.