If you plan to apply to business school in the upcoming admissions cycle, you may think it impossible to improve your MBA candidacy in such a short amount of time. Not true! You can take action in three important areas right now that will pay dividends in the fall.
Did you major in liberal arts? Is your undergrad GPA 3.2 or below? In both of these scenarios, you may want to consider taking quantitative classes to enhance your academic profile. When in doubt about the strength of your test scores, consult your target schools’ admitted student profile page and compare them to the median reported score.
If you took the GMAT once or twice and did not receive the score you think you are capable of, consider taking a prep course to remind you how to solve those high school math logic problems.
Retake the GMAT until you get the score you feel good about. Or, prove you have the quantitative chops by acing a college-level statistics, microeconomics, or calculus course at the local community college. For applicants who can’t raise their GMAT score enough, consider taking the GRE and see how the two scores stack up.
Fortunately, most MBA admissions teams take a holistic view of an individual’s candidacy. Enthusiastic recommendation letters that also address the applicant’s quant skills will carry significant weight with the committee.
A strong focus on work is great. But it’s important to showcase other aspects of your personality, too. This helps prove that you bring a diverse set of skills to an MBA program. Community involvement demonstrates that you have a larger view of the world. Specifically, it shows you see what’s happening outside of your office and that you want to contribute in some way.
But what if you haven’t had the time or energy to devote to outside interests and passions due to your 80-hour pre-MBA work week? Many applicants share this dilemma. Nevertheless, you should still try to find ways to subtly up your community engagement in the coming months. This isn’t about gaming the process with some new-found volunteering involvement, however.
The best way to seamlessly incorporate extracurriculars is to think about longstanding passions and interests and build upon them. Have you volunteered for a certain group before? Check in to see what else you can help them with that’s more high profile. Or, ask if there are any open leadership roles that would be a good fit.
Don’t get hung up on traditional volunteer work, though. There are many ways to show your diversity that can improve your MBA candidacy. The key is to think hard about what excites you. Get creative and discover how you can leverage those interests for a greater good.
Business schools want to see applicants with proven leadership skills that can be further developed through an MBA program. A promotion between now and the fall would be the ideal scenario. But you don’t have to wait for your supervisor to act in order to enhance your overall leadership and management potential for business school applications.
Letting others know you want to further develop your people skills may uncover new opportunities to go above and beyond. Volunteer for that cross-functional team or project. Offer to help your boss with a tough long-term goal. Or, get involved with employee groups at work—whether through volunteering in the community or promoting diversity in your company. All of these avenues can provide great material for your resume and essays.
To show leadership without clear career progression, look again to your extracurricular activities and think about taking on a leadership role. Can you find a way to lead with ideas, to show success because of your influence, communication skills, or ability to motivate people? This is your chance to demonstrate that you can run a project and motivate a team.
The spring and summer months can be very fruitful for your personal and professional development. More precisely, it’s a great time to improve your MBA candidacy. With a little advanced planning and a commitment of just a few hours a week, applicants can do a great deal to enhance their profile before that final rush of the fall and winter.