Tips to ace your MBA application

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Completing an online master of business administration program can be the first step to attaining an increased skill set that can help you reach a higher-paying career. To enroll in the Washington State University Carson College of Business online MBA program, you must acquire, complete and submit several documents. Some of these required application documents’ information cannot be adjusted before enrolling, i.e. the information requested on the application form, your college grade point average or your prior transcripts. That said, there are parts of your application that you can still positively influence. You can score highly on graduate tests, find references who will write compelling letters of recommendation, and create a strong resume and statement of purpose. By focusing on these four areas, you may create a solid case for admittance into the Carson College of Business’ online MBA programs.

1. Acing the tests

When beginning the enrollment process, we recommend signing up for either the Graduate Record Examination or the Graduate Management Admission Test as soon as possible (if you haven’t taken them already). These tests measure your analytical, quantitative, reasoning, writing and critical thinking skills. You must submit your results to be considered for entry into the Carson College of Business’ online MBA program.

The best way to prepare for the exam is to create and stick to a timeline that gives you enough time to study before the exam date. According to data from the Graduate Management Admissions Council, test takers who score between 500 and 590 spend an average of 98 hours preparing. Those who score between 600 and 690 spend about 107 hours studying, while those with a score of 700 or higher spend around 121 hours. Based on this information, you can estimate how many hours you’ll need to study to potentially attain the score you would like.

The GMAC provides several study tools to help you prepare for the exam. To use them effectively, you need to critically evaluate your current skills to determine which areas you need to focus on most. To do so, you can take a quick practice exam at home and determine which sections you score the lowest on. It’s good to prepare for all parts of the exam, but spend a few extra hours on the areas where you can improve. If you study best in a collaborative environment or want something to supplement the tools provided by the GMAC, you can search your area for group GMAT preparation courses.

In addition to studying, review the administrative aspects of the exam so you’re fully prepared once you reach the test site. Further, it is a good idea to scout the location of the test prior to the exam date in order to ensure timely arrival the day of the exam. Finally, make sure you have the following items on hand the day of the test:

• An acceptable form of ID. This can be a passport, government-issued driver’s license, government-issued identity card or a military ID card.
• The confirmation email or letter you received after signing up for the test.
• The code of the program to which you want to send your GMAT scores. For the Carson College of Business, the code is 09D-TL-19.

In some cases, the Carson College of Business will consider your application without GMAT scores. To apply for the waiver, simply submit a written request highlighting the following elements of your application:

• College transcripts showing a 3.0 GPA or above on a 4.0 scale.
• Strong letters of recommendation.
• Completion of a prior graduate or professional degree or at least seven years of management experience.

Successful candidates typically submit a GMAT score of 550 or better.

2. Asking for recommendations

Although the GMAT can be nerve-wracking for some, one positive of the exam is that your score is something you can influence. Letters of recommendation, however, introduce others into the situation. You have to rely on these people to advocate on your behalf for a position in a highly competitive MBA program. A strong recommendation will portray you as an eager, capable learner and a dedicated future student. Therefore, you want to make sure you pick the right people for this task.

Asking for an executive or industry leader can be beneficial, but only if the person is familiar with your skills and accomplishments. A letter from a well known industry player that’s full of filler and light on hard facts about your abilities won’t portray you in the best light – in fact, it may even hurt your application. Ultimately, the letter of recommendation is your chance to get a third-party to advocate for the skills you claim on your resume and statement of purpose. If the letter does not mention these skills, an admissions counselor could doubt their validity.

With that in mind, a direct supervisor can be a more beneficial letter writer than a CEO or the president of your alma mater. Choose someone who is familiar with your work and can provide specific details about your leadership, management, marketing or other skills. The Carson College of Business requires three letters of recommendation, so you have the opportunity to get a variety of perspectives on your abilities.

3. Crafting the resume

Now that you have your letters squared away, it’s time to work on your resume. Treat this part of your application as though you are applying for a job and tailor it to the position at hand. Emphasize accomplishments that show your ability to succeed in graduate school, such as leadership, time management and critical thinking. Also, detail any prior professional development opportunities such as third-party certifications or training programs created by your employer. These examples can help prove your focus on learning.

The structure of your resume is also very important. Be direct and concise with your statements to convey authority, and keep the resume itself to one page. In addition to writing concisely, be specific with details. List how much profit you helped generate on a project or how many people you supervised. Use figures over words where possible – $5,000,000 is more eye-catching than “five million.” Also, don’t reduce the font size to squeeze more words on the page, smaller font sizes are harder to read, and too much information could lead to sensory overload. Use a 10- to 12-point serif font for legibility, and use with black ink.

Use your resume to showcase the skills related to your educational goals.

4. Writing the statement of purpose

The statement of purpose is a reflection of the prior categories. It’s a chance for you to detail your intelligence, accomplishments and ambition in a way that is informative, interesting and unique. Begin with a brief introduction of who you are and why you’ve chosen to apply for graduate school. Then, summarize your undergraduate experience and your career to date. Follow up with how your current professional role relates to your desire to obtain an MBA. Maybe you’ve reached a career plateau, or maybe you want to enter a new field entirely. Finish your statement of purpose with a final emphasis on your aspirations, and thank the reader for their time.

As with your resume, be specific and concise in your statement of purpose. Try to keep your entire letter confined to a maximum of two pages. Any assertive statements, such as “I am a hard worker,” should be qualified with an example. Finally, write in active rather than passive voice to make for a more engaging read. For example, writing “Increased inbound sales leads by 35%” is much more direct and uses fewer words than “Inbound sales leads were increased by 35%.” The first option makes it evident that the increase in leads was a direct result of your actions.

Applying at the Carson College of Business

Entering the Carson College of Business can be a rewarding educational experience that leads to a satisfying career. Applicants for the Fall 2017 term must complete their applications by July 24th, 2017. Click here to see the full list of enrollment dates. Create your own application checklist to make sure you have everything you need, and use the above tips to put your best foot forward.

Recommended Readings:
7 essential cost-saving techniques for the modern graduate student

3 things you need to know before entering an online MBA program

Work to school: Changes to expect and how to manage them



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