Applying to business school can be a daunting undertaking. With the host of great options that are available and the subtle but crucial differences between them, it’s easy to be apprehensive about whether you’re making the right choice for you and your career.
We’re here to help ease your anxiety. Read these five tips for applying to business schools and prepare to face this challenging but rewarding process head on.
Set Your Goals
As you begin the process of applying to business schools, ask yourself one simple, fundamental question: Why are you doing this? Are you hoping to expand your professional opportunities? To gain new knowledge about key areas of business? To make yourself a more desirable candidate on the job market with a new credential? To enhance your salary potential? Some or all of the above?
Identify the end goal that matters most for you, and structure your business school search from there. You are about to make a significant investment of time, money and energy, and you want to make sure it results not just in a nice payoff, but is the right choice for you.
List Your Priorities
Once you know where you want your business school journey to take you, the next step is to consider how you want it to get you there. What aspects of a business school experience are important to you, and how will they help you achieve your goals? Perhaps you want a program with numerous elective options to help you specialize your studies. Or, conversely, maybe you think you would benefit most from a structured curriculum designed to build breadth of knowledge.
Do you have your sights set on an MBA program, or are you open to other options? Perhaps one of the business schools you are considering offers targeted master’s degree programs in your area of interest, such as business analytics or marketing, that could give you more specialized education relevant to your career goals.
Be sure to take into account non-academic aspects of these schools as well. Does location matter to you? Do you want to learn face to face in a physical classroom, or are you open to an online experience? Are you willing to interrupt your career for a full-time program, or are you more interested in one that can fit around your schedule? Once you have answers for each of these questions, write out a ranked list of their relative importance. This will help you to start zeroing in on business schools that offer what you’re looking for and to move on from ones that don’t.
Do Your Research
You know what you’re looking for in a business school, and you’ve begun to make a list of schools that you think may be good matches for you. Now it’s time to dig in and learn everything you can about them. Be sure you read all the materials you can get your hands on about the business schools you are considering to help you make this important decision.
You’ll want to be sure to review the courses offered at the various business schools you’re considering to ensure you’ll learn what you need to know in your program of choice. Take a look at the faculty who teach in these schools as well, and see if there are professors who specialize in areas of interest to you or whose professional networks may be able to benefit you. And speaking of networks, see if you can find any information about alumni networks or career resources offered by the schools under your consideration. You want to be sure your eventual choice offers the entire package; “pretty good” isn’t good enough.
Think you’ve identified the right business school for you? That’s great! But that doesn’t mean it’s time to relax just yet. You still need to apply, and the sooner you can get your application materials together, the better. Applying as early as possible can help improve your chances of acceptance if your business school of choice utilizes rolling admission. You want to be sure you’re able to start during your target term rather than having to wait a few months.
Some schools may even offer priority application deadlines to reward applicants who are motivated enough to get their application materials together as soon as possible. Applying in advance of this earlier date is a great way to signify to your dream school that you’re a serious candidate.
Above all, know that applying to business schools does not need to be a solitary process. Top business schools want to find motivated, successful students just as much as you want to find your ideal business education, and you’ll often find that they have robust support systems of dedicated professionals whose job it is to help you have a successful application process.
At William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, for instance, you’ll be assigned to an Admissions Advisor the moment you express interest in one of their online graduate business programs. Admissions Advisors can help you complete your application, recommend sources of financial aid, ensure you have met any prerequisites your program might have and much more. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to them!
Ready to Apply? Choose William & Mary
If you feel confident in your ability to determine the right business school and program for you, consider whether William & Mary’s online graduate business programs may check all the right boxes. Explore their top-ranked Online MBA program,1 their innovative Online MS in Business Analytics and Online Master’s in Marketing programs, and their rapid-impact Foundations in Business Analytics Certificate program to find your perfect opportunity.