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How can I juggle work and an MBA application?

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Preparing for business school can be tricky.

Once you’re past your undergrad years, making a living and living your life tend to take up the vast majority of your time, with not a whole lot of down time to spare for GMAT studying, resume writing, and all of the other things you have to dedicate yourself to if you want to prepare a successful MBA application.

But if you truly want to be accepted into a top-tier business school, you’ll need to find (or more realistically, make) the time. Creating an effective MBA application package is far more labor-intensive than many applicants realize, so if you want that b-school spot, you’re going to have to put in the time.

Juggling work and an MBA application isn’t impossible – but it doesn’t happen by accident, either. Here are 6 tips to help you build an effective b-school application without losing your job or your sanity:

– Be realistic about your priorities. All too often, I see b-school applicants who are burned out before they even start their first semester because they’ve been trying to cram everything in to their lives while they were applying: they want to start a new business, get fit or maintain a punishing gym schedule, stay on top of their game at work, keep an active social life with their friends, etc.
Here’s the honest truth: you can’t do it all. And the sooner you accept that and start focusing your time on the few things that are your true priorities, the more successful you will be.

– Get support from your boss – and from your friends. Creating your MBA application package is going to take time away from your social life, and possibly your work life as well. But if you get accepted to your dream b-school, it’s going to be a far bigger interruption. If you ask for help from the very beginning of the process, you may be surprised at just how much support you receive, from extra time off to friends who bring you meals and help keep you on track with your GMAT prep.

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– Don’t skimp on sleep. Undergrads throughout time have learned the one trick to adding more hours to your day: just stop sleeping. Unfortunately, that’s a trick that stops being effective pretty darn quickly. If you’re at the point where you’re thinking about applying to business school, skipping sleep can only hurt you – there’s a reason that hundreds of studies have shown just how ineffective studying becomes when you’re sleep-deprived.

– Learn to say no. If you want to apply to a top-tier business school, you need to spend your time perfecting your essays, preparing for the GMAT, and coordinating with your recommenders. What you should not be doing is organizing trips or planning your best friend’s birthday. As much as it might be frustrating to be left out of planning these kinds of events (or to tell your friends that you’re not available to help), the reality is that your time is better spent working on your application.

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– Plan your time carefully. Unless you’re some kind of b-school prep robot (in which case, why are you reading this article?), you can probably think of at least 5 things you would rather do than prep for the GMAT or work on essays for your b-school application. If you want to create a truly effective application package, you’re going to have to plan specific times to work on it – and stick to them. A vague goal like, “I’m going to work on my MBA application at least three nights a week” is a lot more easily set aside than a commitment to go to a coffee shop from 6-7:30 every Tuesday and Thursday in order to work on your application.

– Optimize for small windows of time. Our lives are filled with constant bits of “wasted” time. It’s different for everyone; for you, it might be riding the train to and from work, sitting in the waiting room for a weekly allergy shot, or waiting for your kids to get dressed for school. Taking advantage of these tiny windows of time is one of the keys to getting things done while continuing to live your life.

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Ultimately, the b-school application process is a small window into what it’s like to pursue an MBA. Delayed gratification is the name of the game. But if you’re planning to apply for business school while you’re still working, the skills you learn in order to balance everything you need to accomplish can only benefit you in the long run.

Your turn

Trying to decide whether business school is right for you – or whether your background is strong enough to successfully apply?

The admissions consultants at EXPARTUS have decades of experience helping b-school applicants gain admission to top-tier MBA programs. We can help you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your application package, and learn how to position yourself as the clear choice for admissions

Get in touch with us today at 844.259.4506 or to get started.