What I Wish I Knew When I Was Getting Ready To Apply To Business School

sales guyOver the last three weeks I have been approached, messaged and emailed by individuals that are “thinking/planning to apply in two years.” If you are one of these individuals, this post is for you. First of all: WOW, you are amazing and way ahead of the game. I wish I was you two years ago.

A lot of these items are outside of the control for this year’s applicants (sorry, but I’m in the same boat!). Today’s applicant can do very little in terms of CREATING the value of their resume, and quite frankly, they should be 99% focused on COMMUNICATING the value of their resume. However, for those that are a couple years out, here is a summary of those talks with S, M, T, and others; I hope you enjoy and find them useful.

“Every battle is won before it is fought.” -Sun Tzu.

It’s time to sharpen your sword, put on your armor and set your strategy in place to attack these applications!

Increase Your Impact

MAKE SURE that you are increasing your influence and impact in the workplace. Earn promotions, better assignments, positions where you manage others, etc. These movements prove that you are already having a stellar career, which increases your value as an applicant. In my mind, this is the MOST important item you can focus on for the next two/three years. This is your SWORD that you will wield to attack schools’ applications and is your main tool for victory.

Conquer the GMAT

THIS BEAST of a test is really difficult. In my dream world, I would devote 200 hours over 3 months to study for this test to take it ONCE and get a 720 or higher.  That is what it honestly takes (in my experience). I did 150 hours in 10 weeks and got a 710…. DON’T BE ME (I’m taking it again). There are a lot of great resources out there, but at the end of the day it just takes sweat, dedication, and LOTS & LOTS OF CONSISTENT, SUSTAINED STUDYING TIME. This is probably the second most important item in my opinion. This is your SHIELD that will protect you and get you “in the door.” While I doubt it will win the battle for you, it will stop you from getting prematurely escorted from the application battlefield.

Develop your passion with Extra-Curricular activities

GET INVOLVED with a field that you are passionate about and that is somewhat relatable to your short/long term goals. Go for quality and not quantity of activities. Three years of one cause, where you are showing increasing responsibility and involvement, is WAY better and more powerful than 1 year of three different activities where you simply volunteer. This is a great way to show off your passion, leadership skills, staying power and habit of excellence. This is a great differentiator and acts as your ARMOR. (Everyone remembers the Black Knight.) It protects you from small attacks and also differentiates you from the other players on the field.

Fix your GPA

IF YOU HAVE a C in a math class that is dragging your GPA down, it is probably a good idea to retake that class to help your GPA. Thankfully my GPA is pretty good, but if yours is lower than 3.4, it may be worth your time to check out your options. The GPA is your HORSE; it’ll get you to the battle, but won’t win it for you.

Research & Visit

STUDY YOUR SCHOOLS. Know what applicants they look for, what programs they excel at, what clubs they offer, what alumni connections they broadcast, etc. Make sure you visit your schools and speak to current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This is your MAP; don’t wait to the last month to do your research!

The “perfect timeline” and final thoughts

I highly recommend taking the GMAT at LEAST a year before you apply if not sooner (you may have to take it again). Visiting schools the spring before you apply is also a good idea. Ultimately, try to get as much work done in the year before. As far as developing your career and extracurriculars, that should start today. Have honest communication with your employer to understand how you can move ahead in the organization (however you should probably not say, “how can I get promoted so I can leave for two years?”).

And here is my GOLDEN TIP: Create the resume you would like to submit for your school applications in two/three years. Actually CREATE it on paper and print it. Post it up somewhere where you will see it everyday, and DON’T STOP WORKING TO CREATE IT IN YOUR LIFE.

Winter is coming.

GrantMeAdmission is a young corporate (Fortune 50) finance guy for a Fortune 50 company who blogs at GrantMeAdmission!  A graduate of a leadership rotation program, he’s dreamed of going to a top MBA program and has structured his life to support that journey (making plenty of mistakes along the way). After graduating from a college in California and working for two years, he found transferred to the East Coast so he could visit schools and complete his research. He applied to one school (Tuck at Dartmouth College) and was wait listed for five agonizing months. The process totally caught him off guard, leaving him dazed and confused. 

Previous Posts On Poets&Quants:

How I Got A 710 GMAT On The First Try 

After Getting Waitlisted At Tuck, Here’s What I Would Do Differently

Eight Questions Every Prospective MBA Should Ask Before Applying

Five Essential Elements of a Perfect MBA Application Resume

How Advice From Adcoms & Admission Consultants Will Reshape My Application Strategy

Mistakes I Made Applying To Business School Last Year

Why I’m Adding Kellogg & Berkeley To My Target List

Why I Don’t Want A Part-Time MBA