If you ask most business school applicants, “What’s the first step in getting admitted to a top MBA program?” you’re likely to hear answers like:
• “Polishing my resume to describe my greatest achievements.”
• “Making sure I have the best possible recommenders lined up.”
• “Understanding the essay questions so I can start writing my answers.”
While these are important steps in any admissions campaign, none of them are the first step. To maximize the chances of getting into b-school, a candidate must first do a deep dive into his or her past and present to confirm strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. (This is so important, in fact, that at The MBA Exchangewe start even comprehensive admissions consultation with a thorough “analysis & planning” component.)
So, what’s the best way to organize this critical first step? We structure it around the 3 primary facets of your candidacy. And then we ask some tough questions that elicit authentic responses and produce true self-awareness:
What did you choose that particular college and major? Why wasn’t your GPA higher? What did you learn that is most valuable to you today? What is your best possible GMAT or GRE score? Which b-school class do you fear the most and how will you overcome that fear?
Why did you join your current employer? What do you dislike most about the job and what are you doing about it? Are you overwhelmed or under-utilized? What’s the latest big idea that you proposed? What are your greatest needs for knowledge, perspective or relationships?
What are your core values and how do you live them each day? How would your closest friends describe you? What experience, skill or perspective would you bring to a b-school that they otherwise wouldn’t have without you in the class?
Tough questions? Definitely! But each is important and valuable if you are going to truly optimize your candidacy and present yourself as someone who the admissions committee will respect, value and want to join their program. Most significantly, it takes time and focus if you are going to use the answers to strengthen your candidacy. So, regardless of when you intend to apply to b-school, we urge you to start today. We offer a range of services for individuals targeting MBA enrollment over the next 5 years.
Achieving self-awareness is simply too important to postpone.