If you want to become an executive or advance your career, an MBA can help you get there—but, don’t let the application process intimidate you. The tips outlined below can help you navigate your first steps toward earning your MBA.Begin the Process as Early as Possible
Start the application process early to show you’re eager to earn your MBA. In general, you have a six- to eight-month window to file your application. While this can seem like plenty of time, those who wait too long to apply run the risk of leaving the impression that they considered the MBA program as a last resort. In contrast, starting the process early allows you ample time to prepare your application properly. Keep in mind that selectivity typically increases toward the end of the admissions cycle.Look for the Right Fit
Admissions directors look for students who “fit” the program. Of course, their definition of a good fit can vary—and the same is true for students weighing their options for MBA programs. Start by identifying a program that meets your needs in terms of location, accessibility, reputation, merit, and academics. Next, take your research further to learn more about the school, its MBA program, and its alumni. This information will help you to pinpoint the programs most in line with your career goals and equip you with the knowledge to explain persuasively why this program is the one for you.Use the Application as an Opportunity to Tell a Story
The application process provides an opportunity to tell a cohesive story about your professional and academic past. Weave your experiences into your answers about your motivation for attending business school. Explain how an MBA will help you attain your professional and personal goals. Include this information in your MBA application so it’s clear to the admissions committee when they consider your application to the program.Sweat the Small Stuff and Be Concise
When you fill out your application, pay close attention to detail. After all, admissions committees are looking to admit those who are most likely to thrive as business professionals. Spelling, grammar, and neatness count.Update Your Resume
Many business schools require that you submit a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) as part of the application process for an MBA program. It’s important that your resume is professional and up to date. Be sure to list your accomplishments and experience without exaggeration. When in doubt, search the web for samples of high-quality professional resumes.Provide all Experience
Most MBA programs require students to have some experience in the business world—but don’t count yourself out if this is not the case. Use your personal statement to highlight how your current or past experiences, business-related or not, make you a solid candidate for the program.Make Those References Count
Be selective when asking for a letter of recommendation. Choose people who know you well, such as professors, current or former colleagues/supervisors, and mentors. Ideally, these individuals will be able to provide specific examples of your accomplishments and work habits.