Are you a college student who’s been thinking about business school for a while? You probably already know that most programs look for candidates with significant work experience – typically three to five years. However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about MBA applications for now!
There are many actions you can take during your senior year of college, and over the next couple of years, that will leave you in a much better position when the time comes to apply. So if you want to have the best chance of getting in to a top business school in a couple of years, start working on these actions now:
Start Studying for the GMAT
While you’re in college, you’re still accustomed to study plans and standardized test questions. You’d be surprised how quickly that type of knowledge can fade! With much of the material still fresh in your mind from college-level courses, just a couple of hours a week of study time should have you easily prepared to hit that 700+ score target.
Both GMAT and GRE scores are valid for up to five years, so you can get the test out of the way now and have one less thing to worry about when you’re ready to actually apply.
Consider Harvard’s 2+2 or a Similar Program
Many business schools offer special tracks or programs for college students or early career applicants. Harvard’s 2+2 program offers deferred admissions, allowing applicants be admitted to HBS, but not actually begin classes until they have two to four years of professional experience. Stanford GSB offers a very similar deferred enrollment program.
Yale’s program for college seniors, called the Silver Scholars Program, is slightly different – students enroll immediately and complete their first year of Yale’s core curriculum, then work a full-time internship for a year before returning to the school to complete their third year of elective courses.
Be Intentional About Your Career
You don’t have to have everything planned out now – much of your early career is about figuring out what you want to do, and what types of employment and job roles you enjoy. But while you’re learning about your career plans, you can still be thoughtful about how you work.
In particular, seek out opportunities for leadership, whether it’s asking for additional projects or responsibility, or seeking out volunteer leadership roles in your own time. You should also use your early career years to cultivate relationships with mentors and direct supervisors that you’ll be able to tap down the line for perspective on your career and possibly letters of recommendation for your business school application.
Work on Your Resume
I know what you’re thinking – if you haven’t had much time in the workforce, what can you possibly include on your resume? But a business school resume isn’t just about listing your experience; it’s about building a picture of the person you are.
Now is the perfect time to start working on an MBA resume, so you can add details as you build your career. Don’t forget to include any significant accomplishments or strong leadership roles you held in college.
Don’t Neglect Your Passions
It’s easy to get caught up in your job when you first enter the working world, or to hyper-focus on your career in hopes of making a better impression on the admissions committee. But in actuality, adcoms look for diverse, well-rounded applicants.
Passion and dedication to pursuits outside of work doesn’t mark you as a layabout or an un-serious person; it marks you as a go-getter who pursues their interests vigorously. You shouldn’t be sacrificing your time at work to go rock climbing, but if you’ve been a super-star at work and you’ve also visited 12 different countries to test your mettle on challenging rock faces there, you’re probably just the person the adcom wants to talk to.
If you want to stay in the loop with business school news as you’re building your career, the free EXPARTUS newsletter is a great source for quick hits of MBA application inspiration and admissions news.
And when you’re ready to apply, we’ll be here for you with a free MBA application assessment, to help you strengthen your personal brand and learn how admissions committees will see your application.