5 Crucial Things to Know About the MBA Admissions Cycle

Welcome to the wild world of MBA admissions! You must be warned that this is not a world for the faint of heart, but it is one in which preparation and persistence will almost certainly be rewarded. To get you started, here are a few crucial things you should know:

Work Experience Is a Big Deal

Maybe this seems obvious, but maybe it does not. As compared to other post-bachelor’s degree programs, work experience is uniquely important for MBA admissions. Yes, your undergraduate academic performance and pedigree matter too, but your professional experience can open doors for you during business school admissions in a way that it does not in, say, law school admissions or medical school admissions. Working at a top-tier management consulting firm, investment bank or professional services firm will set you up for success during your MBA admissions cycle, so make the connections and get the college grades necessary to land a great job right away.

Your Letters of Recommendation and References Need to Be Lined Up Early

This point cannot possibly be overemphasized. Months before you begin filling out applications, you should have a list of six to eight professional and personal references. These should be dependable people who know you well and will be able to persuade admissions committees that they should choose you over other applicants. They should also be able to personalize their recommendations for each school to which you plan to apply. Choose them wisely, ask them politely and thank them profusely after you have been admitted.

The GMAT Really Matters

Yes, it may just seem like another in a long line of standardized tests you have had to take over the course of your academic career, but the GMAT is one of the biggest determinants of how successful your MBA admissions cycle will be. Because it is essentially the only purely objective criterion used to evaluate applicants, a high GMAT score can go a long way in offsetting any deficiencies your application may have. With this in mind, know that it is in your best interest to spend at least 200 hours studying for the GMAT so you can set yourself apart from your competitors.

You Should Be Ready to Go Through Multiple Admissions Interviews

Getting into business school will likely require you to go through at least two interviews at each school to which you are admitted. These interviews could be local or they could require you to travel to each school’s campus, so be aware that the admissions cycle may require you to take time away from your job and family depending on location. You will also need to be able to foot the bill for your travels, so save up a bit of money ahead of time to finance your trips.

If You Are Successful, You Will Ultimately Have a Difficult Choice to Make

The end may seem like the most difficult part. If you have a successful admissions cycle, you will be forced to choose just one of the schools to which you have been admitted, each with its own benefits. This is part of the burden of success. Be thankful for the opportunity.

Applying to MBA programs is an emotionally—and sometimes even physically—exhausting process. But if you do it the right way, it will be worth it.

See also: 30 Tips For Your MBA Admissions Success