Hi, my name is Brenda and I am a new Harvard Business School graduate. I have put this page together to help applicants navigate the often tangled and confusing world of MBA admissions, business school selection, and GMAT preparation. Because my original web page on rediff.com is often unavailable, I have copied this information over to angelfire.com.
If you would like to email me, click here. I am very busy, but I will try to get back to you if I can. Thanks for visiting my page. Please bookmark it, tell your friends about it, and visit again!
First make sure you know why you want to go to school and have a clear idea of what you may want to do when you graduate. Often times, as in college, your career goals will change. However, you are about to make a big investment of your time and money, so make sure you give your decision the proper amount of thought and research.
Develop criteria such as geography, recruitment, school reputation, tuition, faculty, student body, etc. In this first step you want to start with the largest number of schools and then apply your criteria and narrow down your choices. Although the schools you are currently considering will end up in the narrowed down list, you may be surprised to uncover some other schools as well. Keep in mind that you don't want to undersell yourself and automatically exclude the top schools. If you're even close to borderline for admission, there are things you can do to increase your chances. (Read on.) Establish criteria such as courses offered, companies that recruit at the school, opportunities for internships, study abroad, etc.
Don't take this test unprepared. Also, this may sound strange, but I do NOT recommend a GMAT review course. I took one and disliked it. The course moved at the pace of the group's slowest student and I had to drive to a classroom when I could have spent the commuting time studying instead. I recommend buying a good book or two and studying at your own pace and at your own optimal hours. If you do decide to take a review course, make sure your instructor is good and check out their materials, i.e. practice questions and answers, etc. All of this should be made available to you in computer format since the test is now computer adaptive.
Based on numerous emails I have received, it seems many of you are international applicants to whom English is not your native language. I wish I could tell you something more but you should study for the TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language)
Be prepared to explain why you are leaving your job or why you want to pursue an MBA right out of undergrad. You can be sure you will be asked this question at least once in an essay or during the admissions interview. Have a well thought out "theme" or "strategy" for your application process. If you are employed and your employer does not know you are considering an MBA, make arrangements to get a reference from a trusted colleague.
Often times, the admissions staff reading your application and essays will never meet you in person. Do not squander this "first impression" by allowing any stains (applicable only to applications submitted via snail mail), misaligned page margins, or inconsistent fonts. These types of things can make the difference between being admitted and being rejected, so I would encourage you to take this to heart.
I can not overstate the importance of having a third party review your application essays. Make sure the proofreader has good grammar and is committed to spending quality time with your essays. Do NOT try to proof your own essays all by yourself. You may catch a lot of your own errors, but chances are some silly ones will get by you. Why? Because when you wrote the particularly awkward sentence, you know what you meant to say. Unfortunately for you, the admissions staff is not likely to be as impressed by the unclear and awkward sentence.
You're about to make a major life decision and tens of thousands of tuition dollars and years of your life are at stake, not to mention future career paths. You can find a good consultant who will cost you less than you'll spend on application fees and GMAT test taking. A good consultant should help you identify your best personal strategy to gain admission and steer you towards the business schools for which you're best suited. They will ensure you have a good theme/strategy that will be acceptable to the admissions committees. They are also perfect for proofing essays (see #5 above) and they can really help ease your stress during the taxing business school application period.
Don't be lazy and opt out of these interviews. View them as additional opportunities to present yourself in a good light, and hence, increase your chances of being accepted. But don't forget that these interviews are also opportunities for you to learn more about the prospective schools. Although the top schools will allow you to interview at remote locations with a volunteer alumnus, I advise interviewing on campus since the alumni are not usually as current with the MBA programs.
To continue with my last thought, the interview often presents a great opportunity for you to visit the campus and speak to the admissions staff and current students. You should call the school in advance and tell them when you are planning to visit. Most schools will gladly arrange for you to sit in on a class and receive a guided tour of the campus. Finally, do not be afraid to approach students and solicit their views of the school. Most of the time, students are glad to talk to prospective applicants (remember, most of them were in your position just a short while ago) and MBA students in particular are often quite willing to offer blunt opinions about what they like and don't like about their programs.
I'm really not trying to scare you and I don't really mean to end this on a somber note. In fact, most MBAs, including the vast majority of my classmates, are quite happy with the decisions they have made. Nevertheless, there is a significant minority of talented, well-adjusted people who end up unhappy. The reasons are as varied as the people themselves and include separation from family and friends, undue pressure to attend business school from these same family and friends, and career choices that do not require the MBA degree. For this minority, a lot of time and money is wasted as a result of their bad decisions.
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