How to Prepare for Graduate Business School

Preparing for graduate business school

It’s your senior year of college. Graduation is less than a year away. Are you ready for the future? You may feel ready to take your degree in Accounting, Finance or Marketing and move into the workplace. Or you may want to further your studies and qualifications with an advanced business degree. Where do you start?

1. Take the GMAT
Most business schools require applicants to successfully pass the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) before acceptance and enrollment into an MBA or similar program. The GMAT is a standardized test that measures your ability to succeed in a graduate school setting. Some programs may allow you to substitute the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in place of the GMAT.

2. Pay for Business School
How will you pay for business school? Depending on the school or program, you may be eligible for financial assistance through loans, grants or scholarships. If you are currently employed, check with your company’s human resources office to determine if your employer will reimburse you for tuition costs.

3. Chart Your Career
What kind of career do you want? Looking to move into management? Want to start your own company one day? Your future career plans will impact the type of degree and focus you’ll pursue in business school. If you’re unsure of your career path, network and speak with professionals in the field you’re interested in.

4. Line Up Your References
Your references can include past and current professors or employers. Build a network of professionals who will provide positive feedback on your background and abilities. Ask them if they are willing to provide letters of reference in the future.

5. Check Your Coursework
Most students who apply to business school have an undergraduate background in business coursework. If you don’t have a business-related degree or major, you can still apply to business school. Check with the program to find out what’s required for background courses. Many programs will allow conditional acceptance for students with little to no business backgrounds. You may be required to take additional coursework in areas such as finance, marketing, accounting, economics or statistics.

6. Choose Your School(s)
Is it better to apply to a large, public university or a smaller private school? It depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. Large, public universities provide excellent programs, but you may miss the intimacy and professor interaction of a smaller private school. Another important factor is the program’s alumni network. What sort of help and resources does school provide during your time as a student and after you graduate?

7. Apply to Your Top Five
Business school competition is fierce, so there’s a good chance you may not get into the first school on your wish list. Narrow your list of programs to between three and five schools and apply to all of them. If you don’t make the first cut, don’t get discouraged. Many schools will allow you to go on a waitlist. The key to business school and business is the same: perseverance.