How To: Prepare for B-School

When you apply for MBA programs, it’s important to establish a plan of action. The application pool is highly competitive, completing the admissions process takes some time, and for many MBA hopefuls, there is a GMAT or GRE test in the immediate future. So the earlier you start putting a plan together, the better that plan will be and the better your odds at getting into a program will be.

Narrow Your List

Depending on whether or not you’re returning to school full-time or you plan to keep working and earn an MBA part-time, your list of MBA programs might have 10 schools or only a couple. There are important considerations beyond location, cost, reputation, and program length — all things that are pretty easy to look up.

Ask yourself why you need an MBA; if you work in supply chain and want to take on more senior roles in that function, find a school that excels in supply chain. Do you prosper more in a small class setting? Just because an MBA program is ranked Top 5 in the country doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you, your style of learning, or where you want to take your career.

The sooner you can get a good list of schools together, the sooner you can begin working on their specific application processes and meeting their deadlines. And that will help you plan ahead for taking the entrance exam, visiting campus, and all the other important preliminary steps.

Take the Test

Generally speaking, the GMAT is a baseline for all MBA applicants. While the GRE is accepted in many cases — including the W. P. Carey program — you’re encouraged to take the GMAT exam. A competitive score can place you higher in a large applicant pool and can help get you noticed by the admissions committee.

Whichever test you take, however, requires a lot of focus and time, so accounting for the test earlier in the application process will help you with the exam itself as well as prioritizing the rest of your admissions materials.

Apply Yourself

Any top business school will have a fairly comprehensive application process. It’s good to know what steps you need to take for your essays, your letters of recommendation, your resume, and even some steps you can take in your life and community to fill out your application packet.

Road Trip!

W. P. Carey alum J.J. Perino was considering a list West Coast schools. But when he visited W. P. Carey and ASU, he knew he’d found his home. “The people I met here when I came out to visit the school — students, professors, everybody — genuinely excited to get up everyday and be in this environment,” he says. “I didn’t get that at other schools. That’s what I was looking for, because that’s a situation in which I thrive.”

You’re going to be spending two years in an MBA program. It’s important to find a school that you connect with, and that’s not easy to do through e-mails and websites. For instance, when you visit the ASU campus, you’ll meet with MBA Ambassadors — current students who can tell you all about life at W. P. Carey. You can sit in a class session and you talk to faculty and administrators about how a W. P. Carey MBA can help you. Just as important, you can make a great first impression, as well.

See Your Blind Spots

Maybe you’re not joining an MBA program from a business background and don’t have the quantitative skills you feel you need, particularly in the early going. Maybe you’re great in math but aren’t a great communicator. While it’s a luxury if you have the time, strengthening any core weaknesses you may have before you start an MBA program will only help you excel more quickly once your journey begins. If you can approach those general accounting and leadership classes with more confidence, it will definitely carry over throughout the program.