Business School Tips for Success

March 27, 2013

Consider these insider tips for getting into business school.

Considering business school? Use these pointers and suggestions to help you decide if an MBA is right for you.

Smart choices

In a rapidly changing economy, many business schools have changed their curriculum to welcome the global nature of the business world. Aim to get global experience through schools' overseas partnerships. At top ranked institutions, such as Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, students can head abroad for research or consulting projects. Harvard Business School offers immersion trips abroad over winter breaks. Students at Stanford Graduate School of Business can work overseas for at least a month to supplement summer internships.

There's no need to set your hopes on ultra-selective business schools to find global opportunities. At the Shidler College of Business at University of Hawaii--Manoa, students can pursue the China International MBA, which includes a nine-month study abroad trip at the Sun Yat-Sen University School of Business in Guangzhou, China. Through the Latin America-based Executive MBA program at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, students can take classes at campus locations throughout Mexico, as well as in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Miami and Glendale, Ariz.

[Check out the Best Business Schools rankings.]

Insider tip

Take advantage of the clubs and organizations available within your business school. Clubs can be a gateway to meeting influential business leaders at speaker events or crafting cutting-edge ideas. Using clubs as a networking tool can lead to future internship and job opportunities that may have not been available otherwise.

Schools such as the Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University offer annual events like Global Diversity Day to celebrate the various backgrounds of students enrolled in the school. Use these events to network with fellow classmates and alumni.

Getting in

Go for the interview: Applicants have many stresses to bear, and unfortunately, this is one they really can't unload. While many business schools require applicant interviews, some, including the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, make them optional. But Dawna Clarke, Tuck's director of admissions, says that in almost all cases, turning down the opportunity for an interview is a big mistake.

"There are so many skills and attributes that might not come across on paper. Making an effort to go to a school to interview shows that you're really interested in the school and lets you tell your story in a different way," she says.

Even if you have a tendency to bomb in interviews, it is probably worth the risk. "In my experience, people are more likely to leave a positive impression than a negative impression," Clarke says.

[Read more tips for preparing for your MBA interview.]

Ask alumni

It also pays to be extra diligent in researching a potential school. Clarke suggests that applicants track down alumni and ask them everything they can about the school. "It allows you to convey a better sense of why you want to come to the school," she says.

One way to find graduates: use the alumni network at your undergraduate school.

[Discover the best jobs for b-school graduates.]

Reality check

Although the economy has yet to fully recover, the hiring market for MBA graduates remained relatively high in 2012:

-- According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 92 percent of 2012 MBA graduates were employed at graduation, the highest rate reported since 2003.

-- The median starting salary for 2012 MBA graduates varied by program type, according to GMAC. Graduates of full-time two-year MBA programs made the highest median starting salary at $85,000.

-- Seventy-seven percent of MBA grads who responded to the GMAC survey said their starting salary met or exceeded their expectations.

-- The top three industries of employment for the class of 2011, according to GMAC, are products/services, consulting and technology.

-- Two-thirds of 2012 MBA grads reported finding work in the industry they intended to land in.

-- In the 2011-2012 academic year, the Graduate Management Admission Test was taken 286,529 times, according to GMAC.

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