The Stanford Graduate School of Business has published the following MBA application deadlines for the 2017-2018 admissions season. Round 1 Application Deadline: September 19, 2017 Notification Date: December 14, 2017 Round 2 Application Deadline: January 10, … →
The Stanford Graduate School of Business has published the following MBA application deadlines for the 2017-2018 admissions season.
Application Deadline: September 19, 2017
Notification Date: December 14, 2017
Application Deadline: January 10, 2018
Notification Date: March 29, 2018
Application Deadline: April 4, 2018
Notification Date: Mid May 2018
Candidates should note that all materials must be submitted by 1 p.m. Pacific Time on the day of the deadline to be considered for that round. The application will go live in June. For more information, please visit the Stanford GSB admissions website.
Before you start the process of preparing to apply for an MBA, take a critical look at your reasons for pursuing an MBA and make sure it’s the right decision for you. →
Every spring, many prospective MBA applicants start seriously considering whether this is the year to apply for business school. Before deciding what type of program you will attend, selecting your school, and determining your application strategy, you need to make the crucial decision of whether an MBA is the right next step for your life and career. Think about the reasons why you want an MBA, and what your alternatives are.
Reasons for Pursuing an MBA
Are you seeking an MBA for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? While your MBA could be a transformational experience changing everything about your life, it’s more typically a tool to polish existing skills, build your network or expose you to new industries.
1. You’ve learned as much as you can in your current role and crave something more. If you find yourself stagnating in your present role or that you’ve plateaued in your job and there’s no room for upward mobility, an MBA can help you navigate and leverage your next career step. The business school experience will show you how to integrate your skills, passions and goals against the backdrop of current global market conditions.
2. You have a new professional goal. Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish after your MBA. If you know what your long-term goal is, that’s a great way to start. What do you need to know to accomplish that goal? How does your resume need to look? What skills do you need to build? And who do you need to know? Think about the aspects of that future that will be developed through your MBA and your short-term post MBA career.
If you are not someone with a clear long-term goal, critically consider what you think the MBA will do for you. Business school offers clear skill building in teamwork, leadership and practical skills like accounting and finance. There is also a strong professional network you will build with classmates and alumni.
3. You need the degree to move up the ladder. If you are seeking advancement in a career where an MBA is valued, it may be an important next step. If you are simply looking for a larger salary or a change of pace, make sure that an MBA is the right professional degree for you to pursue. Applying for business school is an expensive and time consuming activity, and that’s before you even start school! Dedication and passion for the path you are embarking upon are crucial.
4. You’re missing key skills that an MBA program can provide. Business school provides a safe space to experiment and hone those skills in a variety of situations. For applicants with strong technical expertise but who are light on general management skills or anyone looking to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and business, an MBA will catapult you to the next level.
5. You want to significantly expand your professional network. Your alumni network helps you stay connected to the university and to countless professional opportunities beyond graduation. While the quality of the education at the most elite programs is guaranteed across the board, when you’re spending two years of your life and paying more than $100K, keep in mind the network of contacts you build during your MBA experience truly is priceless.
Having a Plan B
While considering your reasons for pursuing an MBA, it will be useful to consider a common b-school interview question: “What will you do if you are not admitted this year?”
Sometimes the answer to the “Plan B” question can be revealing. If you think that you would give up your pursuit of an MBA and either return to a prior career path or pursue a completely different goal, it may not be time for you to dedicate this spring and summer to applying to MBA programs.
When you consider plan B and you find yourself answering that you will spend the year preparing to reapply and continuing to develop yourself for your future career, you are likely a dedicated prospective MBA. If you were not admitted, you might find yourself thinking that you would volunteer more, and build your knowledge and skill set in your chosen career path.
Once you have decided to pursue an MBA, the next steps are to consider your school options, develop your strategy and refine your goals as you plan for beginning your essays in a few months.
The profile of the typical business school applicant has changed significantly over the past decade. Once upon a time, few would contemplate applying without first having the requisite 5 to 7 years of work experience … →
Many prospective business school students confront whether now is the right time to get an MBA.
The profile of the typical business school applicant has changed significantly over the past decade. Once upon a time, few would contemplate applying without first having the requisite 5 to 7 years of work experience under their belts. The prevailing wisdom held that older candidates would have more to contribute to class discussions because of their substantial real-world experience.
Flash forward to today and you’ll see schools taking a closer look at younger candidates, including those with no work experience. The reason for this shift is that business schools fear some applicants would attain so much success after only a few years that they would not want to go back for an MBA.
Some candidates really are ready for business school right after graduating from college; some have started a company while in school, played a strong role in a family business, or gained relevant experiences in other areas.
But as more MBA programs welcome younger applicants, and in some cases actively court them with programs geared toward younger students—such as Harvard Business School‘s 2+2 Program, Yale School of Management‘s three-year Silver Scholars M.B.A. Program, and the deferred enrollment option for college seniors offered by the Stanford Graduate School of Business—anyone over age 28 may feel that she or he doesn’t stand a chance of getting in.
When a client asks, “Am I too old (or too young) for an MBA?” I respond that it’s not about chronological age. It’s more about maturity, readiness, and where you are in your career. Sometimes these things can be linked to age, but that’s not a certainty.
Instead, think about what you want to gain from and what you can contribute to an MBA program. You may be 22 but have a ton of insight to share and highly focused career goals. That would give you a leg up on the 28-year-old who is lost and just using the MBA as something to fill the time.
While older candidates do face certain obstacles, these applicants get into the top programs every year, and can and should apply if an MBA is the necessary stepping stone to advance their career. If you’re contemplating business school in your mid-30s, the key is to demonstrate confidence, how you’ve progressed professionally, and what you’ve contributed on the job.
A 38-year-old candidate who has spent more than a decade in the same position without showing progression will have a hard time being admitted to a top MBA program. This is not because of age. Rather, it is because the candidate may not demonstrated growth during that time.
If you’re applying to an elite school like Harvard, which values great leadership, you should’ve already developed terrific leadership skills. Many people with great leadership skills have achieved so much by the time they near 40 that they’re not interested in going back to school.
However, if one of these people is interested and can demonstrate great achievement balanced with a legitimate need or desire to return to school, then they have a good chance. Proving that you are a strong and accomplished 40-year-old leader, and balancing that with the fact that you want to improve in order to get to the next step, is tough to pull off. That said, “old” people are admitted every season!
Younger applicants, meanwhile, have their own set of obstacles to overcome. They’ll need to demonstrate to the admissions committee that they have the focus and maturity required to succeed in an MBA program.
Since a huge part of the b-school classroom experience is the exchange of ideas from diverse individuals, younger candidates will also need to prove that they have enough life experience to contribute to an incoming class. Business schools are looking for authentic experience, not just students who subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. Finally, younger applicants will need to show an admissions team they have a strong reason for returning to school so soon after graduation.
Regardless of whether you are young or old, if you can achieve what is written above, you will have a good chance of getting into a program that is the right fit for you. Your age should never be the sole deciding factor of whether to apply to business school.
Years ago, I traveled to Barcelona with a dear friend to celebrate her birthday. I remember wandering through the streets, discussing topics ranging from family to future vacation plans to our respective careers. I told her then … →
Years ago, I traveled to Barcelona with a dear friend to celebrate her birthday. I remember wandering through the streets, discussing topics ranging from family to future vacation plans to our respective careers. I told her then that there was more I wanted to accomplish with Stacy Blackman Consulting; I wanted to explore topics beyond business school applications and tap into other ideas that are personally meaningful to me.
The problem was that my vision was blurry; I did not have a concrete idea or plan. I returned to Los Angeles vowing to work on this expansion and brainstorm my next moves.
A few weeks ago, I went out for a birthday lunch with that same friend. During our conversation, I realized with shock that three years had passed since Barcelona and I had not yet formulated my “plan.” That realization jolted me into action.
I had to do something now andthat meant that I had to act before I was ready.
In truth, the times in my life when I have accomplished the most have all been when I took the plunge before I was “ready”.
I was not remotely ready to have my first child – it’s now our joke – my son knows he’s my test case!
A month after our wedding, my husband and I spontaneously packed up our apartment and traveled the world for four months without much of a plan, which occasionally landed us in interesting predicaments, but was an adventure we will forever treasure.
When I launched my first company, which is now part of TheKnot.com, I knew nothing about e-commerce, web design, functional specs, NDAs, drafting business plans, raising money or anything else related to our business. The learning curve was steep that year!
My original plan was to apply to business school a year later than I did. A friend in her first year at MIT Sloan advised me to go for it earlier, since it was already on my radar. I pulled together an application with the intention to reapply a year later when I was truly “ready”. However, I ended up being admitted to my dream school and the rest is history!
So here I am, writing a different kind of blog post, sharing a more personal aspect of myself, without much of a plan, and I am doing it before I am ready.
In truth, when are we ever ready? When do we just have piles of time and resources sitting around, waiting for us to begin? When do we have the perfect plan, the team, the money and everything figured out? I don’t suggest being impulsive and reckless, but I do think that “getting ready” can ultimately be a form of procrastination.
I’ve found that the very best way to get “ready” is to start taking action. Step by step and brick by brick we can build a foundation that makes us “ready”. Whether you are applying to business school, gearing up for a career change, thinking about buying a house or starting a family or hungering to launch a new business, you just need to begin.
Start this week. Start today…before you are ready. Take one step, and then another, and then you are on your way. I will be building by your side!
All my best,
P.S. Check out three of the very best things I created before I was ready.
While we know that many people are still awaiting the results of their Round 2 application efforts—or are hoping to get off of wait lists or be accepted somewhere in Round 3—we also know there … →
While we know that many people are still awaiting the results of their Round 2 application efforts—or are hoping to get off of wait lists or be accepted somewhere in Round 3—we also know there are MBA hopefuls whose journey has come to a disappointing end. What should you do if you were not accepted into any program?
In general, there are five different paths forward:
Apply to other schools you’re interested in before Round 3 deadlines hit. If you chose this option you’ve likely already submitted additional applications, as the vast majority of Round 3 cutoffs have now past. As you probably already know, Round 3 is usually not an ideal option unless you have a strong reason for waiting so long and can communicate that reason to the adcom. Otherwise they may view your application as a last-ditch effort to go somewhere and not believe you are genuinely interested in their program. There are, of course, some unique circumstances in which we would recommend this route, but typically it’s not the way to go.
Reapply at the appropriate time in the future. We work with successful reapplicants every year, so this route can definitely lead to acceptance at your dream school. However, for the most competitive programs, your odds of being admitted as a reapplicant are better if you were asked to interview during your previous attempt; it’s clear the program in question was interested in you before, but luck just wasn’t on your side. (And no, you weren’t dinged last time because you bombed your interview—trust us.) The most important thing to do as a reapplicant is to reapply at the right time. As anxious as you may be to go back to school, you really have to demonstrate growth and have something new to talk about that strengthens your candidacy. (And in case you’re wondering, a higher GMAT score alone usually wouldn’t be enough.) This might mean waiting more than one application-year cycle before you reapply, especially if you are on the younger side of the candidate pool.
Apply to different schools in the next application year. If you’re willing to cast a larger net, so to speak, then applying to business school again sooner rather than later is a totally acceptable plan. In fact, the process will still be fresh in your mind and you might not need to change much about your resume or data forms—you may even be able to ask your same recommenders to prepare additional letters. Just be sure you take a really objective look at what your weaknesses might have been in your previous materials so that you can tweak as necessary.
Apply to part-time or evening MBA programs. If you really want to get an MBA but full-time programs are not working out for you, a part-time, weekend or evening program may be the way to go. You’ll still make lifelong friends, get a top-notch education, have access to the same alumni network as the full-time program and earn the same degree in the end!
Forgo business school. We know you may not even be able to imagine this path right now… and we also know it’s a bit weird for MBA admissions consultants to tell anyone that getting an MBA might not be the way to go. But the reality is that a good chunk of the world’s most respected and inspiring leaders and innovators do not hold a business degree. If you really want to achieve your long-term career goals, we have no doubt that you can do so without an MBA.
Think of it this way:
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For the past 16 years, I have written in my blog, contributed articles to various publications, been interviewed by journalists, moderated forums, hosted webinars, advised clients, spoken on panels, authored a book and recorded videos, … →
For the past 16 years, I have written in my blog, contributed articles to various publications, been interviewed by journalists, moderated forums, hosted webinars, advised clients, spoken on panels, authored a book and recorded videos, all linked in some way to the topic of MBA Admissions. Through this work, I have encountered thousands of incredible individuals and felt blessed to help them achieve their most ambitious educational and professional dreams. It’s been a true honor to accompany so many on this significant and very personal journey.
Lately, I have been feeling that I have so much more to say. For me, business school was only the beginning. Getting in was exciting, attending was life changing and after that…there was life: launching and selling a company, launching and growing a second company, getting married, raising three children, navigating new territories, dreaming, striving, failing, juggling and experimenting.
There are so many post b-school topics that are meaningful to me. There are lessons I want to share, questions I want to ask and conversations I want to have. I realize that if you are reading my blog, there is a very good chance that you are most interested in what it takes to get into the best business schools. If that’s the case, there is a wealth of information on this website, including my recent interview with Business Insider.
However, you may also be interested in The Bigger Picture: insights, challenges and lessons from the post-admit life. Tomorrow I launch a bi-weekly series where I will touch on the more personal experiences I have had while growing SBC and while growing up. I hope that you can learn from my experiences, and that I can learn from yours. Perhaps I will help you avoid repeating my mistakes or remind you to stay positive in the face of failure. Maybe my stories will cause you to reflect and in turn, inspire stories (or application essays) of your own. I’d love to hear from you and to learn what interests you.