A Guest Post by Noah Rue
Making the decision to go to back college for a higher-level degree is a big one — congrats! You’ve most likely spent a considerable amount of time researching and determining which MBA program is the best for you.
Getting into your dream MBA program is quite the task! Every year there are more and more people applying for programs that have a limited number of positions. It’s getting harder and harder to qualify for some of these programs, which means you really have to put your best foot forward to get in. Making sure your application is up to snuff, determining if you should go in person or online, and figuring out how to make the most of your time in school are all essential tasks.
Getting the Application In
The application materials are the foundation you’ll stand upon when applying to your dream program. Applying is a major process, so be prepared to spend some time on it. Typically, the application consists of quite a few documents, including:
- An application form for the college as well as the MBA program
- An updated resume
- A letter of interest
- Test scores for schools/programs
Applying for big programs happens in multiple rounds, which means you should be ready to apply to your top schools in the first round, and another batch of schools in the second round (just in case.) Figuring out how schools ultimately make their decisions is challenging, so it’s better to have a few options.
One of the biggest things that will make your application stand out is a solid, well-rounded resume. Modernize and update everything before submitting. This means deleting a career objective section, limiting accomplishments to brief, descriptive bullet points, and making sure that you’ve quantified your achievements.
In-Person or Online?
One of the next big decisions that influences where you apply is whether or not you want to attend in-person or online. There are a number of benefits to either. Really, it comes down to which environment works best for you, the way you like to learn, and your personal life.
For many people, the need to be able to meet with professors and peers in person greatly outweighs just about anything else. In-person learning makes it easier to participate in interactive and collaborative projects and extracurricular on-campus activities.
Others find that online learning is the best, most practical way for them to obtain their MBA. Part of this comes down to the fact that online learning programs don’t necessarily require you to uproot your personal life and move to a new location. Many folks looking for a top-tier MBA program are already working and can’t quit their job to focus on going back to school. Online programs tend to offer a more flexible schedule with the same quality degree as traditional in-person programs.
Making the Most of Your Degree Program
There are several other important factors to consider as you go through the MBA application process. One of the biggest is figuring out how to get the most out of your degree program while you’re there. This means taking advantage of all of the extras – from networking events to social happy hours to guest speakers.
These opportunities can alter the course of your career. Many people will tell you that the most valuable part of their experience didn’t come from the classroom. Rather, it was the connections they made with professors, peers, and other business leaders during their MBA program. Networking remains one of the most powerful means of landing a job.
Although it’s a significant time commitment, striving to attend the extracurricular events will help you make the most of your MBA. This is particularly true if you’re attending online, as it’s easy to miss out on many events since you’re not physically present. As you consider your options, be sure to look for a program that will cater to your interests regarding guest speakers and networking opportunities.
Applying to an MBA program is a big step in meeting your long-term career goals. There’s a lot to the process — from gathering application materials to updating your resume, to figuring out exactly which type of program is right for you. Good luck!