There were plenty of times when my daughter, in medical school then, would look so tired, unable to say anything and can’t seem to lift her arm. More to reassure myself than her, I would ask, “You still want to be a doctor?” Her answer was always unwavering, “If I am not going to be a doctor, I can’t think of anything else I could be.”
So you are going to a business school. You are as determined as my daughter was while studying medicine; you have bought a one-way ticket to an MBA.
Are you ready for it? Oopppsss, not quite.
Going into a business school is tough and far from easy. You just don’t walk into one and enroll. You’ve got to have a package of letters of recommendations, essays, passing grades in GPA (Grade Point Average) and GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), a list of academic activities, work experience, etc. If this is not enough, you need to fight against fierce competition if you aspire to enroll in the top business schools.
These tools, if I may call them that, require years of preparation. Desire and tools cannot make one conquer the Everest. It is through years of preparation.
So how does one prepare for a business school ?
1. Do well in college:
Many students, I included, do exceedingly well in high school. But the liberating atmosphere of college is like a siren’s song tempting most to slacken, to just get by.
There’s no easy fix to this. In college work and career seem light years away. Until we start submitting transcript of records for employment opportunities to find out that ours is a shame.
For what it’s worth, nothing beats having good grades from day one of college until the last. If you must enjoy your first two years, dig in and aspire for a good GPA as you approach graduation.
Whether you are contemplating of pursuing a simple life of an employee or to be an executive some day, having good grades make you appealing either way.
Take it from me. I’ve been there.
2. Engage in school activities that will train you for leadership roles:
Nothing beats a management job, in self-satisfaction and pay. The problem is that this requires a good amount of leadership skills.
Do you have what it takes? Depending on the school of thought, “leadership” is either in-born or learned. I would rather take the latter than spend all my life figuring out if I was born a leader or not. You’d do the same, don’t you?
And what better place can you get your initiation into leadership roles but in college? Getting involved in activities like sports, civic action, debating clubs, community service, etc., will highlight your areas of interests and strengths and help you find a “best fit” when you enter the job market or the appropriate post graduate course.
3. Determine if your short and long term goals need an MBA:
An MBA application requires the writing of an essay about your short and long term goals and how an MBA can help you attain these.
This could be daunting especially if you don’t have one. Make use of your senior college years to start laying them down.
To make it easy, follow these steps:
– Decide what you want to be 20 – 30 yrs from now;
– Break them down into smaller chunks of 1- 5 years, 10 – 15 years, etc., short term goals;
– Draw a plan on how to accomplish these;
– If you have to work, find one in areas that support your short term goals;
– If further studies are needed, focus on subjects that support your them.
Along the way check each one to find out if an MBA is the only way to achieve them. There’s no point in getting one if you can get by without it.
4. Take the GMAT a few months before or after graduation:
There are business schools that don’t require a GMAT but the more prestigious ones have this as a requirement for admission. To allow you more leeway, it is better to take it. It’s a good confidence-builder.
There also no passing grades in a GMAT test. But there are maximum or minimum points, high or low that business schools find acceptable for admission.
To be on the safe, aspire for scores on the maximum or high side. You can easily do this by taking the test while still in college or a few months after graduation. A GMAT is basically math and language test – things you frequently encounter in the classroom. Taking it much later, when memories start playing tricks on you, can make it more challenging
By the way, my daughter became a doctor. Her determination to be a good one is as intense as her desire to be one it leaves me, as her unofficial driver, breathless at times.