I’ve spent a long time preparing to apply to business school, but I never thought it would be this tough. As a somewhat-bicoastal young professional and entrepreneur, I’m no stranger to a busy schedule. But applying to business school takes things to a whole new level of stress. All of a sudden, I’m expected to take on GMAT-studying, recommendation-securing, essay-formulating, cost-enduring, all while maintaining a full time job and a semblance of a social life? How can it be done?
For the past two years, I’ve worked for the consulting arm of a Big Four accounting firm. Most would agree that consulting is an ideal pre-business school experience – you get the chance to develop business cases, advise C-level executives, and design complex financial models. However, the consulting lifestyle does not provide a lot of free time; consultants often travel four days a week, work nights and weekends, and answer at the beck and call of their clients, partners, and coworkers.
So if this wasn’t enough, I went and made my life that much crazier by pursuing my lifelong dream of starting my own business. During a three month sabbatical from my firm, I built an ecommerce business in San Francisco. Those three months were life changing; collaborating with one of my best friends, I built a business from the ground up, enduring pitfalls and victories along the way. But all good things must come to an end, and thus I was forced to return to my full-time job with a commitment to maintain the business I’d started in my time away.
Then came this whole business school application thing. I’ve always known that I would go to business school, it was just a matter of when. So why now? I’d liken the feeling of being ready to go to business school as the feeling you get when you’ve found “the one.” When you know, you know. Having attended business school events over the past few years, I’ve met young professionals who seem to be rushing into a program when they aren’t sure if it’s the right choice. To these people I say: please wait. You’ll know when you need to go to business school when you start seeing walls that you can’t jump over on your own. When you want that promotion but are passed over for an MBA grad. When you go for that dream job but your work experience doesn’t get you past the recruiter. Or for me, when you want to grow a business but you aren’t sure how you’d begin to scale your existing small-time operation.
So here I am, very sure that now is my time to apply to business school, which has translated to full-fledged GMAT studying and crammed application mode. After narrowing down my schools, it became apparent that I wanted to accomplish a lot in a very short amount of time (shooting to apply in Round 2 of this year). My target schools are Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, and a MIT/Berkeley tie for fourth, so I most definitely have my work cut out for me.
Knowing that I needed to hit around a 730 GMAT score (the average score of my target schools hovers around this mark), I bit the bullet and invested in a Kaplan GMAT Online Anywhere course (a series of online lectures with interaction in virtual chat rooms). Best decision I’ve ever made. In my opinion, Kaplan provides an infinite library of online resources, the teachers are A+ amazing, and the methods really work. I always thought that I’d go with a traditional in-person class, but price point and flexibility were determining factors for me so I went with Kaplan and never looked back. With work obligations sending me to different states each week, I’m able to attend GMAT lectures regardless of my location, and maintain contact with my teachers while I’m far from home.
So while I’d like to stick around and tell the rest of my life story, I’ve just remembered that I’ve got some GMAT studying to do. With this crazy assortment of commitments, I’ve just got to persevere.
Laurel McAndrews joins the OnlineMBA.com family of prospective MBA students blogging their experience. Read more about Bethany Perryman and Alanna Stage‘s decisions to pursue higher business education on the blog on OnlineMBA.com every Wednesday.