Done right, the business school application process is demanding. In addition to being at the right place in your career, you need to be focused, honest with yourself, open to feedback and willing to prioritize. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you might not be ready for an MBA.
- You can’t articulate what you want to do when you graduate.
Keeping in mind that you don’t actually have to follow the path that you articulate in your applications, you do need to outline specific goals. If you find yourself completely unable to come up with a plausible scenario, you might not be ready for an MBA.
- You don’t prioritize interviews, test prep and school visits.
Look, setting aside the time and money to apply to business school is a sacrifice. Most people wince a bit at spending money on test prep over a vacation, or when deciding to visit a school that’s a plane ride away. However, if you find yourself really resenting these choices – or simply not making them, and failing to take advantage of opportunities to bolster your candidacy, you might not be ready for an MBA.
- None of the courses or clubs sound interesting.
Another big warning sign is the inability to write persuasive school specific essays. If the real answer is that you don’t want to learn what they teach in business school, either because you think you already know it or it sounds dull, please take note. Yes, many people decide to pursue an MBA in part because of the network and career opportunities, but the curriculum and clubs shouldn’t sound like torture. There are other ways to expand your professional options.
- You struggle with the introspective essay prompts.
Business schools are demanding more introspection from candidates. They want to hear what really matters to you, what you are truly like as a person, how you handle tough things like failure and conflict, and how you will interact with the community. These essays are hard to write, and if you find yourself avoiding the process or writing superficial drafts it might be a sign that you aren’t ready for an MBA.
By the way, resistance to these personal essays is not limited to younger candidates. Sometimes applicants with more life experience feel like the schools are being intrusive, or that these questions are irrelevant. A good admissions consultant or close friend can potentially help you break through the barrier and write more authentic responses.
Even if you decide that now isn’t the right time to apply to business school, you might well be ready for an MBA in the future. It’s ultimately worth it to wait until you can invest the time and energy to create an amazing candidacy.
Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than 18.2 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 96% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.