If you are planning on applying to business school in the upcoming admissions season, you may think there is nothing you can do to bolster your MBA candidacy in such a short amount of time. Not true! You can take action in several areas right now that will pay dividends in the fall.
If your GPA is a 3.2 or below, or you majored in liberal arts, 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’re satisfied, or prove you have the quantitative chops by acing a college-level statistics, microeconomics, or calculus course at the local community college. If an applicant is really dissatisfied with their GMAT score, sometimes the best option is to think way out of the box and take the GRE and see how the two scores stack up.
Fortunately, most MBA admissions teams take a holistic view toward an individual’s candidacy, so 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 and 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; that you see what’s happening outside of your office; and that you’re interested in contributing in some way.
You may not have had much time or energy to devote to outside interests and passions due to your 80-hour pre-MBA work week, but you should find ways to subtly up your engagement with the community 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. If you’ve volunteered for a certain group before, 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, so think hard about what excites you and 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 at work know you are interested in developing your people skills may uncover more opportunities to go above and beyond, and provide great material for your resume and essays. 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.
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 opportunity to demonstrate that you can run a project and motivate a team.
The spring and summer months can be very fruitful both for your personal development and for improving your business school application—or, more precisely, for strengthening 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.