MBA Admission Lessons

I hardly ever write about my personal life, but this time I feel like sharing one of my recent experiences. Last week I got accepted into the MBA program at Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto), one of the top Canadian and highly-ranked international business schools.

For the past few years, I kept entertaining the idea of going back to school for a graduate business degree to pursue the almost magical MBA. However, there always seem to be something making me postpone this decision – demanding work projects and new contracting opportunities, time and financial constraints, relationship status and travel plans, long term and short term goals. Nonetheless in the end of year 2010 I came to the realization that this is the time. There always will be obstacles and unfavorable circumstances bringing a lot uncertainty and risk to any decision, and it is never going to be any easier. However, our life is never a smooth sail in a sea of calmness, but rather a journey where inner peace is the one that matters.

Admission process is always one of the first major tests on the way of getting the desired degree. In addition to taking the GMAT and writing essays, the process involves a lot of ground work, getting admission application in one piece. Here are just a few lessons I learned from the admission process:

Do your research about the business school. Make sure that the school you are applying to is a good fit with your goals and expectations. If the school is located in another city and this is going to add two hour commute to your full-time job, it is going to be very difficult to motivate yourself to go to classes every day, especially if the school was not on top of your list, but a third or fourth choice.

Attend info sessions and talk to students and admission staff. Not only you can learn more about the program and school, but you can get invaluable advice on what is exactly expected in those five essays that you need to write, and maybe get a chance to review your application with one of the admission officers before the final submission.

Don’t focus only on the GMAT score. Business schools are looking at your application to be well rounded, and pay attention to numerous other factors, such as your previous academic record, work experience, essays, and your social activity outside of work.

Find the right referees. Rather than going after high level executives, who hardly have time to reply all their piling up emails, not to mention spend time in the evening writing a proper reference about you, ask your direct manager or a client to provide a reference. Quality of his or her reference would mean a lot more than their senior executive title.

Start working on your essays early. Not only writing essays would be a good practice for AWA portion of GMAT, but also students often don’t realize the amount of time and effort that goes into well-written essays, leaving them for the last minute. Generally you would want to have at least a few revisions and get someone’s feedback on your essays before submitting them. That may add up to five or more days of work/critique per essay, depending on the quality level and expectations that you set for them.

Links to a few of my favorite GMAT and MBA admission articles:

Is an MBA a Plus or a Minus in the Startup World?
General GMAT Books Review
Quantitative GMAT Books Review
Verbal GMAT Books Review
Analyzing an AWA Argument
Ace the Essays? No, Thanks!
The Top 5 MBA Admissions Myths
How to Approach Business School Information Sessions

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