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How to Prepare for an MBA: 6 Essential Tips and Strategies

July 29, 2021
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If you’ve decided to earn your Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree, congratulations! You’ve made an important decision to invest in your future and enhance your career.

With an average of 20% growth for the leading MBA schools1, graduate school admissions are becoming more and more competitive. As you look to apply and start your MBA studies, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.

Here are our tips for preparing to earn your MBA:

1. Define your motivation and goals for the program.
Before you start your courses, take some time to think about why you want to earn your MBA and what you hope to gain from it. Are you looking for a career change, salary increase, or promotion? Or are you looking to more generally deepen your knowledge, grow your professional network, and learn modern business skills? Whatever your reasons are, it’s important to outline clear, measurable goals for yourself. Write them down so you can return to them whenever you need to track your progress or find motivation.

2. Choose the right school.
Every university’s MBA program has a different approach that will shape your success during and after the course. Some programs are more focused on the technical skills of business, while others might concentrate on leadership or marketing. If you’re going to invest the time and money into this degree, you want to be absolutely sure that you’re getting what you need.

Ideally, you can find a curriculum that combines hard and soft skills to give you a well-rounded approach to business. For example, the Online MBA program at Seattle Albers School of Business and Economics teaches you to build relationships and develop a cross-functional understanding with colleagues, on top of the necessary strategic and analytical tools for modern business.

3. Follow the MBA admissions requirements to a T.
There are some basic terms for every school’s application process, but never assume that they’re all the same. Be sure to review the requirements for your program before you start collecting or requesting any materials. There should be a list of application requirements and deadlines for you to follow, as well as easily accessible tuition and financial aid information. Missing an item or deadline doesn’t give a great first impression, so set reminders for yourself to stay on top of the different pieces.

At Seattle University, you always have the option to talk to an Admissions Advisor if you have questions about how and when to apply.

4. Prepare your resume, transcripts, and personal statement.
After you’ve located your program’s admission requirements, you’ll likely find that they want you to send some materials along with your application. Again, these requirements will vary, but most MBA admissions committees will ask for your resume, official education transcripts, and a personal statement or letters of recommendation.

Instead of viewing your application as a list of to-dos, take this opportunity to show the admissions committee why you deserve a second look. Highlight unique accomplishments, tailor your messaging to the school, and focus only on recent work. Make it a point to call out your extracurricular activities as well, as business schools pay special attention to your achievements outside of work.

Check out our tips for completing your application and refining your resume to make yourself stand out.

5. Start reading again (or start reading more).
It’s no secret that MBA students spend a lot of time reading throughout their coursework.2 You can help avoid fatigue and get back into the practice by slowly increasing your daily reading time before your MBA program starts. Not only will this help you get you used to your new reading schedule, but it also gives you the chance to do some research that could benefit you in your classes. Professors will be impressed if you can share something new you learned while preparing for the program.

Choose some books that align with your area of business and start by renting a few at a time. Audio books are a great option as well for those still working while earning their MBA.

6. Network before and during the program.
One crucial benefit of getting your MBA is the connections that you make along the way. The ability to meet new people, hold productive conversations, and maintain relationships is crucial in business, and your time in grad school will only enhance that. Luckily, your cohort is likely to be full of other business professionals with similar interests and goals who want to grow their network just like you. Once you meet a few people at orientation, connect with them on LinkedIn or arrange a time to meet up in person, if possible.

Your university’s faculty and alumni network are other great places to make connections and find new opportunities. You never know who will become your next mentor, colleague, or friend. At Seattle U, we go to great lengths to connect our MBA students with people and resources to benefit their career and expand their network.

Prepare to Excel at Seattle University

Once you complete the steps above, you’ll be more than ready to join our online MBA program at Seattle Albers School of Business and Economics. Our rigorous curriculum and experienced faculty will help you identify, understand, and solve emerging business challenges, all with a layer of empathy and collaborative ethos that you won’t find anywhere else.

Review our application requirements to get started, or connect with an Admissions Advisor to have them walk you through the details.

  1. Retrieved on July 26, 2021, from wusa9.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/covid-sparks-grad-school-application-surge/65-2ddf0f1f-1d00-434d-ba9d-84b59e0438f4
  2. Retrieved on July 26, 2021 from usnews.com/education/blogs/mba-admissions-strictly-business/articles/2016-08-12/5-ways-to-prepare-for-the-1st-year-of-business-school