If you’re contemplating going back to school for an MBA, there is a lot to consider depending on where you are in your life and what you want to achieve in the future. PREMINENTE College & Graduate School Counselor and former senior admissions officer with UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Liz Rosenberg, along with two of our valued strategic partners – Lesley Mitler, Master Career Coach & CEO of Priority Candidates, and Lauren Heinemann, CEO & Achievement Partner – tackle the 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Applying for an MBA:
When you think about your future, where do you see yourself? Do your personal passions and career aspirations align?
Before diving into the commitment and expense of graduate school, take the time to chart your future path, not just academically and professionally but personally as well. Having clarity on your goals and purpose will not only inform a decision you make today but will also be beneficial when navigating many of life’s transitions in the future. Through her Achievement Coaching process, Lauren Heinemann works with her clients to “unearth key strengths, passions and values, while also increasing overall self-awareness, improving emotional intelligence (critical in the working world) and empowering confident decision-making.” Lauren emphasizes that doing this work before venturing into a new phase of your career or your life ensures your goals are aligned and rooted in your genuine purpose.
Is an MBA right for you given your professional goals, skills, and strengths? Will it help you to get to where you want to be?
Once you’ve identified your own personal North Star, you need to determine whether an MBA is the best path forward to achieving those goals. Will it align with the careers that are the best fit for you? While fewer roles require an MBA than may have in the past, the degree might be the competitive advantage you need to pivot to a new position or industry or to advance with your current company. The data-driven career assessment tool that Lesley Mitler and her team at Priority Candidates employ with their clients “identifies careers that are an optimal fit for your thinking styles, behaviors, and interests, helping to determine whether an MBA will enable you to stand out as a candidate for those roles and provide opportunities for advancement in the future.”
What type of business program is right for you?
Since MBA degrees come in all shapes and sizes, this question boils down to determining your timeline and your goals. The traditional two-year, full-time residential MBA is the most common but there are also a host of options for working professionals including part-time, online and executive programs, depending on where you are in your career and your life. Generally speaking, no matter what the schedule, the degree will be the same.
There are also intensive accelerated one-year programs that will cover the same fundamental business skills but allow less time for specialization. If you are considering an MBA to acquire more specialized skills, there are programs that focus on international business, data science, sustainability and the like. There are also dual degree programs that combine the MBA with a law degree or a master’s degree in another field.
Taking the time to think through all of these possibilities before applying is key to finding the right fit program for you.
What’s most important to you about where you go to school?
Much like when you were deciding where to go to college, there are some key considerations when determining where you want to attend business school. MBA expert, Liz Rosenberg, identifies the top six factors that aspiring students should weigh when determining a school list:
Reputation/Ranking – Even though some consider them to be a flawed metric, rankings remain one of the most common reasons students – and employers – choose a school.
Location – While the top business schools have global recognition, many still tend to appeal to students and employers in particular geographic areas. The opportunities available to students near the school’s main campus, whether for careers, internships, volunteer work or other professional and personal extracurricular activities will affect not only post-graduation outcomes but also the student experience.
Career services/placement – Since career advancement is the primary rationale for seeking the MBA, the services and outcomes of the career offices at the schools you’re looking at should be high on the list of priorities. Business schools publish their hiring statistics each year so take the time to research where and when recent graduates are hired to ensure their results align with your goals.
Alumni network – Business school doesn’t end when you get your diploma. Your fellow classmates and alumni will provide advice, job connections, and perhaps investment opportunities and partnerships over many years to come. Knowing how big the network is, where the majority of alumni are based and the industries and companies they work for may be critical information for future job searches or just keeping the school connection alive.
School culture – Beyond prestige and career placement, schools are also known for their distinct culture and it’s crucial to ensure that their values and yours align. Make an effort to visit at least your top schools and to connect with current students to get their perspective on the school and the experience.
Specializations – In addition to their individual “personality” or culture, schools are also known for their academic or career specialities as well as opportunities to take advantage of resources outside of the business school. Larger universities may offer access to other departments on campus or centers and institutes for joint degrees, additional certifications, or augmented experiences.
Will an admissions committee see you as a competitive applicant?
While this is a loaded question that PREMINENTE can help you to unpack with an in-depth review of your qualifications, there are some key criteria that guide admissions decisions:
- A solid academic record, preferably with demonstrated quantitative proficiency, competitive test scores, and proof that you can handle the work of the program
- Work experience demonstrating progression, leadership, and teamwork
- Extracurriculars showing commitment, consistency, leadership and alignment with the culture of the school
- Strong detailed letters of recommendation from people who really know you in a professional setting
- Authentic, well-crafted and polished essays that provide a glimpse into the person you are beyond your work and academics
- A well thought-out reason why you want to go to a particular school and why you WILL go if accepted
- Consistent demonstration of your alignment with the school’s culture
- A concise, yet compelling, elevator pitch for your interview
- Perhaps most importantly, your unique contribution to the program. What skills, perspectives, or experiences do you bring to the table that others do not?
To learn more about whether an MBA is right for you and how to get accepted to your right fit school, please join us for the first in our PREMINENTE Bootcamp Series:
MBA BOOTCAMP: ADMISSIONS & BEYOND
DATE: February 6 & 13, 2024
TIME: 6:00 – 7:00 pm EST (calendar invitation & Zoom link to follow)
- Session 1: Is an MBA Right for You?
- PREMINENTE strategic partners, Lauren Heinemann, CEO & Achievement Partner, and Lesley Mitler, CEO of Priority Candidates, will take you through the key questions you should be asking yourself about your life and career goals before applying to business school. If an MBA is the right fit for you, they will guide you through the initial preparation you will need to set yourself up for success in the admissions process and beyond.
- Session 2: What do Admissions Committees Want to See?
- Liz Rosenberg, PREMINENTE College & Graduate School Counselor and former senior admissions officer with UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, will walk you through the choices in business programs, the qualifications top schools are looking for, and some insider tips to ensure you are the most competitive candidate you can be.
PRICING: $995/household (payable by credit card)
- This cost includes the two-session online group Bootcamp, a recording of the workshops, and a digital summary of the presentations.
- To register for MBA Bootcamp, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the names of all attendees. Additional information will be provided through subsequent emails.