So you’ve decided that the coming year is going to be the year for you; when you finally take charge of your career and make it happen for yourself. If your New Year resolution is to get an MBA application (or two?) in next year, this article would be a good place to start.
If you went back to see if we wrote ‘next year‘, you saw it right the first time, planning and preparing for your MBA application has to be ideally a year-long thing; maybe even longer.
The post is an attempt to apprise MBA wannabes on when to do what as well as give a quick overview of the main components involved in the application.
Bear in mind that these are not all the ingredients that go into making a strong application but just the main components. The ingredients is a separate matter altogether best left for another day.
Without further ado, here’s how your list should ‘ideally’ look like for the coming year (and beyond).
Sample MBA Application Timetable
So there you have it. But now let’s have a slightly deeper look as some of these things might appear a bit counter-intuitive or confusing.
GMAT Study Planning [Feb – Apr (Attempt 1) | Jun – Jul (Attempt 2)]
Though we have made our suggestion, but this can really vary from candidate to candidate. While some might be able to crack it in a month’s time, some others may need 4+ months. But start early here.
The reason you see two bars on the time-chart is if in case you have to take another shot at it.
The score does set the tone for many reasons as it is one of the most controllable factors in your hands. You will find a lot of free tips/resources on our website on getting your GMAT study plan in good shape.
There still remain a handful of schools out there that insist on this even if majority of your education is in the English language. While you can try for a waiver, there are some that will not budge. The list keeps changing so you have to firm up your target list and then take this. It is not a difficult test at all if you are decently well versed with the language. Don’t fret over and it in many cases, just best to get done with it well in time.
Read this to get a basic overview of TOEFL Format and Preparation.
Post MBA Goals Finalization [Jan – Apr]
This ideally should be the basic motivator you are contemplating an MBA at the first place.
If you haven’t yet read it, pick up a copy of Beyond the MBA Hype to debunk some myths associated with the MBA.
Even after you have an idea of the goal, the articulation itself needs fair amount of research and thinking though.
Remember, this is the main component of your application (baring some top schools who have started omitting this question altogether of course) so make sure you know what you are aiming for and are also able to convince the ad-com that you can make it happen.
If in doubt, there is always the MBA MAP to help you out on this aspect.
Research and/or Visit Business School Campuses [Mar – Jun]
This one goes sort of hand-in-hand with your GMAT prep. If you are early enough, you could even utilize the five free schools you get to send the score to. But don’t try and over-optimize here.
Take your time as this will dictate not only your next 1-2 years, but the career thereafter. Make a LOT of effort in connecting with the school community.
If you can, visit your target school to (cliché alert) understand the school’s culture. We do not recommend making a trip just for this – the expense is just a bit too much frankly; but if you can maybe club it with a personal/professional trip, it is a great thing usually.
In today’s digital world, schools are putting a lot of effort in ensuring the geographic distance does not put international candidates at any disadvantage. That said, we are at least a few years away from getting there.
Writing your Essays [Aug – Oct ]
The MBA essays really are a window to the real you – both as a person and as a professional. This is really where the art comes in and it stops being purely plain old logic and analytical skills.
An often times frustrating experience, many candidates claim to have found their ‘inner self’ through this experience. While that may not happen to you, but be true to yourself here and leave at least 2 months before the application deadlines for this; R1 deadlines are mostly in Sept-Oct timeframe barring a few exceptions.
Once you’ve poured your heart out, make sure to get a second look on it from friends / family / MBA guide – the third is where we can come in.
Plan your Recommenders and Recommendations [Aug – Sep]
Recommendations are a way for the committee to check the veracity on some of the claims you may have made. It is also their chance to judge your potential and fit with respect to your strengths.
This process is fairly collaborative since most recommenders would be senior professionals; you will in many cases, need to hand-hold and help them along the process.
Once you have your basic story in place, that’s when you should start this process. Do not keep it for the end as some recommenders may take their own sweet time because of their time constraints.
Fill the Online MBA Application Form [Aug – Oct]
This should preferably be your first step of the application after the GMAT.
Do not rely on third party websites to get information on essays and other component. Always go to the mother source i.e. the school website.
There are many cases where schools have ‘hidden’ questions in the application forms which comes as a surprise to several candidates (and even MBA consultants).
In some cases, the forms are so detailed that the candidates run out of time and steam by the time they get to this.
Keep this ready in tandem with your essays so that you can hit that submit button well before the actual deadline date.
Interview Preparation [Nov – Jan]
Our stand on this could be a bit counter-intuitive. We do not recommend you start preparing for the interviews as soon as you’ve submitted the application. After the above gruesome process, it is fair to take some time off.
In most cases, it is ok even if you start preparing after getting an interview invite. This avoids any heartburn / frustration of wasted efforts and also ensures freshness of responses.
Do not overdo it – after all, rarely are these interviews a test of your ‘rocket science’ knowledge. A week or two is usually good enough for these, assuming you don’t have a serious hurdle to cross here (like interview phobia).
Planning for MBA Financing [Jan – Mar (current year) | Feb – Mar (next year)]
Like GMAT, this too has two legs, but unlike GMAT, those are a must do for financing. Many candidates end up applying without understanding the kind of money commitment an international MBA requires.
First get yourself acquainted with that. After that, do some basic fact finding on if you had to go without any financial assistance from the school, where will the funds come from.
Talk to a few financing agencies and have a high level plan in place even before you begin the application process. The real work on this begins after you’ve gotten an admit of course. This process can take time and that is another reason to try and target the R1 deadlines.
Planning for Round 2 (R2 Battle) [Nov – Jan]
If you started well in time, you hope that this is not something you have to do. But given the way results and interviews are structured, it becomes tough to wait for the outcome of R1 before beginning your R2 journey.
This should ideally begin soon after the R1 journey ends – maybe with a bit of a breather as mentioned above.
You may go down this track even if you are successful in R1 – one can always be more ambitious. This is also the reason why the process goes beyond the year really.
Show Tags02 Nov 2012, 08:29
Just want to give a student perspective of Hult.
I cannot comment much about the MBA programme there as I was enrolled on to the MIB (Master of International Business) programme but from what I hear the programmes are quite similar. A bit about myself - I have over five years banking experience working for European banks in the UK. I would classify myself as mid-management and my areas of expertise are treasury and corporate banking, although I have worked in other areas including credit, project management and retail banking. I had always aspired to attaining a Master's degree from a good business school but had been putting it off as I was quite settled in my job and was progressing swiftly. Nonetheless, I felt that the time had come for me to be decisive and I sumitted my resignation in 2011 to pursue my Master's.
When I considered the various streams, the field that attracted me most was International Business. My career had up until that point revolved around finance. My undergraduate degree had a strong finance orientation and so too did my professional qualifications and experience. However, I felt that the time had come for me to gain a wider perspective of business, therefore I decided to specialise in International Business I considered a number of business schools including Hult, Thunderbird, Imperial, Warwick, Emory, NUS, UCD and Melbourne Business School. I took a number of different business factors including reputation, cost, quality of faculty, international experience and class sizes and in the end settled for Hult. This does not mean that Hult offers the most reputable or most cost effective programme. Nor am I claiming that its the most global business school. However, when all factors of consideration were taken into account, Hult offered the right balance for me.
I have provided a summary of what I feel are the positive and negative aspects of the school below. Hope it helps you make the right choice. I thoroughly enjoyed the course itself, but have found it quite tough to find a suitable role post graduation. Whether, this is due to the Hult brand name or whether this is due to the poor market conditions, I cannot say for certain. My guess, would be that it is perhaps a combination of both!
Quality of the faculty - The quality of the faculty was exceedingly good...not only did the lecturers/professors have strong academic backgrounds but they also possessed strong industry experience and therefore the courses were very practical. They were also in general very approachable and keen to optimise every student's learning experience. Extensive use of case studies was made in almost every course and students were strongly encouraged to think out of the box and come up with innovative solutions. It must be noted that much of Hult's faculty also teach at other schools including Cranfield, INSEAD, Babson, Rotterdam School of Management, Cardiff, Cass, Harvard, London School of Economics and Boston University. Many of the faculty members have MBA's, PhD's etc from top institutions such as Harvard and Cambridge.
International experience - In this aspect I would give Hult a 5 star. Hult is truly global in its outlook. Not only does it have perhaps the most global student body among top business schools, but the content of materials taught is also international in nature.
Scholarships - Hult is perhaps more generous in offering scholarships than other B-Schools.
Brand Marketing - The Hult management is aware of the importance of a strong brand name and is investing heavily in developing its brand. From the Hult Global Case Challenge to the Business Professor of the Year awards, the school is investing heavily to enhance its reputation.
Multiple campuses globally - Hult has campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. These campuses provide students with the opportunity to study/work in multiple campuses and experience different business cultures, which is very beneficial for students aspiring to work in multinational environments. From what I hear through the grapevine, Hult is planning to test out a campus in Sao Paolo this year. Hult consider the multiple campuses approach to be one of its unique selling points and actively search for opportunities to expand their global footprint.
Speaker events - keynote speakers at Hult have included Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Bill Clinton (Former American President), Steve Wozniak (C-Founder of Apple), Biz Stone (Co-founder of Twitter), Ronald Jonash (Head of Innovation, Monitor), Grzegorz Kolodko (renowned Economist and former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland) and Edgar Perez (renowned High-Frequency Trader, Edgar Perez).
Responsive management - The Hult management is sincerely concerned about the experience of students and is willing to take tough decisions if necessary. I know of a Professor who was fired because the vast majority of students did not like his style of teaching.
Action Project - Hult programmes provide students with an opportunity to work as a Consultant for clients on behalf of the IXL Centre (a consulting firm run by Hult). Past clients have included Raffles Medical, Nike, Philips, British Airways, Crosslane, Energy Logic, 3M, One Laptop per Child and Panasonic among others. Consultants (students) are tasked with challenging responsibilities over a 6 week period during which they will work closely with the client (in my case our point of contact on the client was the CEO) to meet the client's requirements. During this period, Consultants (students) also work closely with their mentors (who are Professional Consultants working for the IXL Centre, many of whom are former Monitor and McKinsey consultants). I found the Action Project to be a very important aspect of my learning experience as it gave me an opportunity to put into practice all the theory that we learnt earlier in the year.
One year programme - While Hult's Master's programmes (including the MBA) are intensive, students save a year in comparison to other programmes.