This time last year I was preparing for re-taking my GMAT and TOEFL, was planning my campus visits and was working on my resume, so I understand the problems and questions of Fall 2013 MBA applicants quite well. Several guys approached me to ask for my advice on the application process and the questions are very similar, so I decided to dedicate my post to the most common applicant's questions.
- What should I start with? At this point I suppose that the question "Do I really need an MBA?" is not your question and you have decided for sure that you need an MBA and you are planning to apply this/next fall. My strong recommendation will be to start with the test/tests: result of GMAT is valid for 5 years, result of TOEFL is valid for 2 years; both tests are not easy, so you have to allocate sufficient time to prepare for them and make sure to save some time for potential re-take (the majority of people I know took GMAT at least twice and you can not retake it earlier than in 31 days after the initial attempt). After you are done with the tests, you are fine to do next steps. I think that next you should be working at the school selection by using your own criteria (don't forget to include UCLA Anderson in the list), working on your resume and selecting proper recommenders, probably discussing with them your intention to get an MBA. Additionally, now is a right time to attend admission events that will take place in different cities around the globe throughout the summer and autumn.
- Should I visit the schools before applying? or When is the best time to visit the schools? or Is it ok to visit the schools in the summer? or Am I at disadvantage if I can't visit the school? My personal opinion is that you won't be at disadvantage from the admissions point of view if you can't make it to campus, but a visit o school can benefit you personally on different stages of your application. First of all, you will meet a lot of people personally and will be able to ask about their experience with the school; you will be able to make contacts with different people and refer to them at a later date when you need it. Secondly, you will have the opportunity to visit classes, see the method of teaching and the atmosphere in class with your own eyes, that's why I believe that visiting during school year is better then just walking in the lonely campus during summer or other holidays. So, if you have an opportunity, go and visit on October-May (excl. State Holidays and winter/spring breaks). When you visit UCLA Anderson, make sure to write a message to me, I will try to meet for coffee and share my experiences with you :). Thirdly, all activities during your campus visit will form your vision of the school, help you justify your choice of the school in the essays and help you make a final choice of the school when you are admited to several MBA programs.
- What track should I mention in my essays for UCLA Anderson or is it better to mention multiple tracks? Actually that doesn't matter! What is more important is to link your future goals and career aspirations to what Anderson has to offer. For instance, If you plan to go into marketing sphere, you can mention marketing track, but make sure you explain how you will benefit from it. My advice will be "not mention something just to mention it". As far as I learnt from the admit portal, in the fall 2013 you will have to write only one essay of 750 words, so make sure every word in it counts and adds to the whole picture of yourself! Be specific, avoid blurred goals and just tell your story!
- What are the financing options at UCLA Anderson? There are a lot of financial aid opportunities at UCLA Anderson and you can look them up here. I can say that Financial Aid office at UCLA Anderson is wonderful, they respond to every simple question I have and within very short period of time! They are very helpful and friendly! So, if you have questions regarding financing, contact Ji Choi or Andy Promsiri from FinAid office, I am sure they will be very happy to help you. My general advice will be to start saving money from the moment the idea of getting an MBA came to your head: it will be a bit of a help when you are admitted!!!
So, these are the most common questions I have heard recently. If you have other questions, please, comment on this post, I will answer them in the comments or will make another post out of them!
Alena Kostenkova, MBA'15 @UCLAMBA