It is early July. MBA hopefuls around the world have started working on their business school applications. Every year, around this time, we receive hundreds of queries regarding development and formulation of a solid MBA application strategy. Some of the questions are very well thought out and deep. It shows that the applicant has done enough home work. While most of the questions are basic and shallow pointing out to the fact that the applicant has just started looking at the MBA admission process and needs deeper soul searching and broader analysis of his MBA strategy.
In order to help the applicants who are late in this game, we have created the following questionnaire. Getting answers to these questions would help such applicants catch up with early birds and bring them up to the speed.
We strongly recommend you to type answers to all these questions in an MS Word or Power Point document as writing helps streamlining your ideas and building a coherent story.
1. Why MBA?
It is perhaps the most important category of questions. Be really clear about it. Are you planning to switch functions, industries or both? Is your goal to move up the ladder in your company? Do you want to start your own business? Why do you want to start your MBA now, why not later? What are your short, medium and long term goals? How would an MBA stitch your past experience with your short terms and long term goals? If you can build a clear story around “Why MBA?”, half of your application mission is accomplished. Congratulations.
2. Which MBA?
Do you need a Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA? One year MBA or two year? Which MBA program fits your personality, your profile and career goals?
Full time MBA programs are usually two years long and are best suited for individuals with 3-8 years of experience. It is for candidates who are looking for a complete career switch in terms of function, industry and/or geography.
On the other hand, part time MBA usually takes longer. But it is not for you if you are looking to change industries or function (e.g. from engineering to corporate strategy). However if you want to move up the career ladder (e.g. Engineering to engineering manager), it fits the purpose perfectly.
If you are 35 or above and have more than10 years of experience, executive MBA might fit your needs better. With an executive MBA, you will not be able to switch industries or functions easily, though.
3. When MBA?
When is it best to apply for an MBA? A simple answer is, “when you are ready”. You might be wondering what is readiness? By readiness, we mean; you have at least 3 years of work experience, have taken the GMAT and are satisfied with your score, plus you have researched the MBA programs and have answers to “Why MBA” and “Which MBA”. You genuinely believe that an MBA will help you take your career to next level? So our question: Are you ready?
If your GMAT score is not that great and you believe that you can score better, go ahead and give it another try. If you are still wondering if an MBA is important for you or not, do some more soul searching.
If you are 30 years old, you need to get ready now. More you delay your MBA application, lesser will be your chances to get into a top school. Be more proactive, hurry up. You don’t have any time left to procrastinate.
Another very important set of questions relate to where should you apply. Here is how you can find answers to it. First, look up the class profiles of top schools. Check out our class profile resource that contains details on each top 20 b-school class profiles and also links to their websites. If you have the answered the questions in previous sections, you should have a pretty good idea about what kind of MBA program matches your profile. You should have a rough idea on; where do you want to go? Do you want to go to a top 10 school? top 20? top 50?
And then comes the deep dive… Look at school culture; would you like to be part of that community? Look at their facilities, the resources that they have made available for their students; do they have enough offerings in the areas that you want to focus on? Identify the people in your personal network who have been part of those places. Get in touch with alumni and current students of those schools. Discuss it with admission consultants. Visit online forums and chat rooms; you will find plenty of solid information there (and a lot of rumors as well) .
5. Should I use a consultant?
OK. Done with “4Ws” of MBA application (why, which, when and where). Let move on to a more practical question. Should you use a consultant?
I am an admission consultant, and people tell me that I am quite good at it. So you should naturally assume that my answer should be: “Yes. Consultants are absolutely needed. They are awesome”. Right?
My honest answer, however, is that “it depends”. A recent study shows that 57% of the applicants use admission consultants. So basically, only a little above half of the applicants use admission consultants. Here is how you should identify if an MBA admission consultant is needed or not.
First, identify the people around you who have been through the process and who can provide you an honest opinion. Don’t ask your mom!! She probably loves you too much and she would be biased in her opinion about you.
Share your ideas with those people around you who can provide you a blunt and honest opinion. Show them your application material. Share with them your recommendation letters, if possible. Discuss your overall storyline with them.
And then double check their feedback with more people in your circle.
If you don’t have the right people around you, or if those “right people” are too busy to help you (or they say that they are), then you should definitely hire an admission consultant. As a starting point, feel free to reach out to us for a free profile evaluation.
6. Who will pay the fees?
You got a rich dad – Congratulations, You are done!
But 95% of the applicants don’t have rich dads, moms or uncles. So what should they do? The answer to the question varies widely. In any case, if you get an acceptance letter to a top business school, my recommendation is not to over-think. Look for scholarship information from school websites. If you don’t get the scholarship, sell your condo and the car! (Don’t worry. After MBA, you will be able to afford a better condo and a better car). In my case, I was lucky I got a loan from Prodigy Finance and it worked out pretty well for me.
Good luck with your MBA application and financing.
Stay tuned for our next blog post!