It is that time again – less than two months until the first MBA application of the year is due! Hopefully by now you are already knee deep in the application process, but if not don’t fret because some careful planning and committed execution can get you into the school of your dreams.
In this post I want to focus on three factors – the GMAT, application essays, and interview.
GMAT: If you have already taken the GMAT and scored in your school’s target range, then stop reading here and move to the next section because retaking it and getting those 10 extra points won’t give you near as much of an advantage as having carefully crafted, articulate essays. If you have yet to take the test, or achieve your target score, then you better rethink what you are doing this Friday night and set a library date with your study materials. My recommendation: select the Manhattan GMAT guides that correspond to your four weakest areas and master one a week for the next month. It is difficult to overstate the importance of the GMAT in the application process.
Essays: In my applications, the essays were by far the most challenging aspect. How could I package my life story into 750 words or fewer? The simple answer is I didn’t need to, and neither do you. What you do need to do is paint a picture for the admissions committee – provide them with a story or a tidbit that will force them to remember you and leave them no choice but to invite you for an interview to hear more. Who are you more likely to remember; the accountant who graduated with high honors and a 750 GMAT, or Caroline the girl who used her passion for accounting and education to help a Brazilian nonprofit locate $200K in misallocated funds that were reapportioned to help build a new school? Everyone has a story that makes them unique, find yours and use it.
The second part of my essay advice is something I wish I had done more of – show the schools that you know what makes them unique….and let me tell you the culture, curriculum, and great professors are not enough! Dig deeper and find something that the students are proud of and use specific examples. At UCLA, our orientation period is extremely important to develop the relationships that make our class so cohesive. And we are extremely serious when it comes to Challenge 4 Charity (which can be seen in our participation and sports day domination this year), so read up on specific topics that interest you and write about them.
Interviews: Once we get closer to releasing interview invitations I will do a separate post on interview tips, but for now my advice would be as soon as you click submit on that application, start practicing for your interviews. Develop a clear, concise story for every question you may be asked, and practice delivering them to friends, family, or the mirror because the interview is now the last hurdle standing between you and two of the best years of your life.
UCLA Anderson doesn't mess around at C4C!
Class of 2015