Applying to business school begins during college.
You need to have a solid GPA as an undergrad, land a job after graduating that helps you move towards your professional goals, and work hard for at least four years, in most cases, before applying to business school.
From there, do a little soul searching to see if an MBA is right for you. If the answer is yes, you'll begin the search process and figure out what kind of MBA program best suites you. Financing school, preparing for and taking the GMAT, if applicable, and applying to school are also important parts of getting an MBA.
For this article, let's focus on the application itself. Use this advice as a checklist to ensure your MBA application is strong enough to get you into the best schools that will help achieve your goals.
Conduct heavy research on schools that fit your goals
Don't just look at top ten lists. Delve deep in the programs the school offers and look for other important information like tuition costs, faculty:student ratio, and much more.
Make sure the personal essay lets your personality shine
Don't overemphasize your business experience in your b-school application essay. Schools want to get to know you as a person, not just a list of accomplishments.
Customize your essays to what each school is looking for
Don't send the same essay to more than one school, even if they ask similar questions. Tailor each essay to the type of student each particular school is looking for.
Know what you want out of your career before you apply
You're applying to business school because you realized that the school's program is going to help you get to where you want to go professionally. When presenting a career vision in the application, be sure that it's in line with your previous or current experience. Remember that your career vision shouldn't seem unfocused or undecided.
Don't rely too much on those GMAT or GRE scores
List extracurriculars that prove your leadership experience
B-schools would rather see your leadership behind the extracurriculars, than the quantity of your extracurricular experience.
Be very strategic about who writes your letter of recommendation
Don't have someone write a recommendation just because you feel you should. It's more important to have an honest, glowing recommendation than having a luke-warm recommendation from a big name.
What you want the admissions officers to know about you should also reflect in the interview
The MBA admissions interview is very different from a job interview; prepare accordingly. Don't deviate from your story in the interview. Make sure that your career vision and goals are consistent with the vision you presented in your application.