How to Prepare a More Competitive Application

The admissions process at W. P. Carey and other top business schools is highly competitive. Studying for the GMAT, preparing your resume, and securing strong letters of recommendation are vital. But what can you do to make yourself more competitive even before you fill out the online application?

Here are some steps you can take now to make yourself stand out when you’re ready to submit your application materials:

Odds are you’ve been out of school a few years when you begin seriously pursuing an MBA. So depending on what you studied as an undergrad or what you do day-to-day on the job, you may need a quantitative refresher. If you don’t have a business background, you may lack these skills entirely and that could negatively impact your GMAT score. But even if you squeak by on the GMAT, you can make your transition to b-school that much easier by brushing up on basic algebra and statistics fundamentals. The core first-year MBA courses in accounting, statistics, economics and finance tend to be the most difficult for students who have been away from those skills the longest.

Find out if a local community college offers a class that fits your schedule, enroll in a GMAT preparation course, or take practice tests on the many prep websites. Taking these steps to improve your quant skills can boost your confidence, and shows you’re taking b-school seriously even before you start – something you can highlight during your interview.

More than any other soft skill, the MBA develops your leadership capabilities, through coursework, strategies, and projects that give you real experience guiding teams. But as with academics, the more leadership experience you can gain beforehand, the better. You’ll have more to offer class discussions and teams, and what you bring to an MBA program is as valuable to a business school as what you’ll get out of it.

Look for opportunities to take a leadership role at work, pursue that project in the community you’ve been considering, or sign-up for a project within your professional network. Be more active with your alumni chapter. Making time to get involved not only broadens your experience; it also gives you a leg up in the applicant pool.

Across the W. P. Carey School, giving back to the community is a given. It’s not a one-time of the year event, but instead is woven throughout the student experience. Accounting students and faculty assist low income families with their taxes; student organizations serve numerous non-profits; the faculty and staff regularly donate their time to help with causes on campus and beyond.

Whether you help out at a local animal shelter from time to time or you keep a dedicated calendar for all your service work, volunteering showcases your passion, your willingness to go the extra mile, and your commitment to giving back.

Of course, there is no perfect recipe for your MBA application. But you can count on a lot of applicants with high GMAT scores and well-written essay responses. That’s why it’s important to plan for a well-rounded application package – one that shows what makes you a valuable addition to the next MBA class.

Learn more about applying to the W. P. Carey MBA and what it takes to be accepted to the program.

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