What Do I Need To Do To Get Into Business School?

MBA admissions preparation goes a long way beyond practicing for the GMAT: you need to get your experiences and character in order so you can wow the admissions committee in the essays and interviews.

In this video, Angela Guido walks you through 4 steps to get yourself MBA admit ready. Think of it like a path to business school admission enlightenment. To work on yourself, make sure you have great stories to tell, and be the kind of person that other people want to succeed. It’s a holistic process, but ask our clients: it works.

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Today I'm answering the biggest question that's on everyone's mind, the question that everyone has when they come to our channel, when they come into our calls, when they look at my face and they say “Angela, I'm applying to business school. What do I need to know and do to get in?”. It's not the right question to ask, but today I'm going to answer it on MBA Monday.

I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, an MBA and Career Coach for the last 15 years, I've guided thousands of students to their MBA and career dreams, and I'm here every Monday helping you apply to business school. Be sure to hit that subscribe button down below so you don't miss a thing. And now we're going to talk about how to get into business school. It's a question on everyone's mind. I'm going to break away from my usual pattern of talking about three things. Today I'm going to talk about four things. Four things that you need to do to get into business school. Ready?

Cultivate Your Character & Goals

Number one, be interested in the world beyond yourself. This has come up in dozens of videos that we've done over the years, but all MBA programs are looking for values driven leaders. They want people who are going to make a positive change happen in the world. And they know that they can't teach you how to care about other people. At this stage in your life and in your career. if you're not already thinking beyond yourself, it might be too late for you. And if it's not too late, at least they know that that's not something they're going to be able to teach you in their MBA program. They're going to teach you finance, strategy, operations, accounting, all the soft and hard skills of what it means to be in business, but they can't teach you to have a heart, they can’t teach you to be values-driven, and they can’t teach you to care about others and to want to have an impact in your career. If you're not already focused in some way beyond yourself, by which I mean beyond your day job, beyond your mandate, beyond whatever it is that you have to do to collect your paycheck, then do something now. Mentor people that you work with, lead a training program, get involved with a nonprofit, tutor someone, mentor someone. Just do something. Do something that gets you focused beyond yourself. It will make a huge difference in your MBA candidacy, but also in your life.

Know Thyself

The number two thing you need to do to get into business school is have a high degree of self-knowledge. Another word for this is self-awareness. Another word for this is emotional maturity, emotional intelligence. It's really about knowing who you are, what you want, and how the MBA is going to help you get what you want. Now, I already said you have to be focused beyond yourself. You have to have a vision for your career that's more than just getting a slightly better job. You really want to be thinking about what kind of impact you want to have in your career that's going to make you proud, that's going to make you able to say when you retire that all that time you put into the office was worth it, not just for you, but for everyone else. And to really be able to think about how you're going to make your mark, and then to be able to tell stories about yourself and how you've already made a mark. That requires a really high degree of self-knowledge. So our process of working with our clients begins with a really in-depth discovery process. We call it You Discovery, and it's designed to help you get to know yourself better at this really important inflection point in your career. It will make a huge difference in how you communicate in your applications and most importantly, in your interviews. Because ultimately, there's nowhere to hide in the interviews. Look at your achievements, look at your values, look at what is most meaningful in your life, and get ready to talk about it.

Take Care Of Your Basic Statistics

Third thing you need to do to get into business school is to take care of your basic statistics. There's so much out there on the Internet about the importance of the GMAT, and the GRE, and the executive assessment, and your GPA, and the school you went to, and whether you took accounting or not, or whether you took MBA Math or Berkeley Extension or HBX Core, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. We tend to really fixate on the numbers because they're numbers, because they're objective, they're easy to measure, and it is, in fact, true that schools will look at your statistics. Of course, your GMAT score, your GPA, and your academic readiness to tackle the MBA program is a really big part of your profile, but there is not a single school on the planet that would say that the GMAT score is what gets you into business school. The GMAT score or the GRE score, they're totally interchangeable for the schools that accept both scores, is not the thing that's going to get you in, because, let's face it, the MBA is not the degree for the smartest people. Yes, you need a certain level of intellect, you need to be able to hang in the classroom, but the MBA is for doers, it's for leaders, it's for people who are going to go out and build things in the business world. Some level of intellect is required, but you don't have to be ready for a PhD in philosophy to be able to get into business school. So you need to take care of your basic statistics. You want to look at it as hygiene. Okay, so this isn't the thing that's going to get you in, but it could keep you out if you don't have your statistics in order. So first thing you want to do is look in the description below and go try out MBAmo. MBAmo is our MBA odds-calculating robots. He will tell you whether your statistics, your GPA and your GMAT, are in line with the expectations of the schools that you're applying to. Another way you can do this is go look at the rankings and look and see what's the average GMAT/GRE score for the school you're applying to, what's the average GPA, what's the range, and the bottom line is, if your test scores in particular are not in order, if you're, like lower than the school's average, then go work on it. Go clean that up. Make sure that your test score does not represent a glaring weakness in your profile if you can at all help it.

Share Yourself

The fourth and final thing you need to do to get into business school is share yourself. Share yourself in the application itself. Most people approach MBA essays from the perspective of trying to tell the school what the school wants to hear. Harvard asks, “What more do you want us to know as we consider your application for admission?”. Most people read that and they think it says, “What do you think we want to hear as we consider your application to Harvard Business School?”. I assure you that is not their question. They're not interested in whether or not you can read their mind, or whether you think you know what they want to hear, or whether you can pander to whatever it is that you think they're looking for. That's not the question. No business school is interested in you pandering to them or telling them what you think they want to hear. They genuinely want to get to know you as the person that you are. Everyone is unique. This is one of the reasons why I started doing this job in 2009 and I haven’t been able to quit. Because it's so much fun to get to know all the individual, discrete little instances of humanity that exist. that are out there trying to make a difference in this world. So absolutely everyone is unique, including you. I promise you are unique and there are things about you that make you who you are that are one of a kind. That's the stuff that you need to share in your application. Now, I'm not talking about oversharing. I'm not talking about giving too much information or airing your dirty laundry. I'm talking about presenting an inspiring and complete picture of who you are as a person. That includes challenges that you've overcome, it might even include failures, but most importantly, it includes your experience of life. It includes your perspective. It includes what you value. It includes how you go about making your way in this world. It's an act of generosity to share yourself and your experience in your applications, and that's really what you need to do. You're not trying to over-polish yourself. You're not trying to put together a perfect brand. You're not trying to reduce yourself to one or two concepts and then hammer that in the application. You're trying to do your best to really give them an authentic experience of who you are as a person. That's what will catch their attention. That's what will make you memorable and unique. It's what will make you stand out from all the other applicants who, let's face it, are nothing like you. You are different. You are unique and if you want the best chance of getting into business school, you have to bring that forward in your application. I know it's easier said than done. There are a lot of other videos on our channel to talk about how to tell a great story, how to inspire, and even how to tackle some of the specific MBA essays that you're going to answer as you go through the application process. Please take advantage of all those resources. If you want to work with us on bringing out your most authentic and inspiring story, you can sign up for a consultation call to discuss collaborating with us on your applications in the description below. I hope some of you will talk to us because we absolutely love getting to know people's stories.

Okay, that’s it! Four simple things: look beyond yourself; know yourself; take care of your basic statistics; and share yourself in the MBA application. If you do those four things, you will be doing the absolute best you can do to enable your success in getting into your dream schools on your MBA journey. As always, I am genuinely wishing you the very, very best. I'll see you next week on MBA Monday.

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Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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