Getting My Graduate Degree–The First Tentative Steps

I’ve decided to apply for the MBA program at the university I currently attend. I had always intended to go back to school for an MBA some time after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in May, but a fortuitous conversation with a professor last week made me decide that now was probably the best time to apply to the program.

I went to speak with a professor who taught a geography class I took last semester to ask him if he would serve as a reference on my job applications. My original intentions after graduating in May were to return home and seek full-time employment, pay off some of my debt, and then seek entrance to an MBA program in a year or two. When I spoke with my former professor he asked what my plans were and I told him. It was then that he suggested I apply to the MBA program. To be honest, I had considered staying here to get my graduate degree in the past, but had eventually decided against doing so. However, after speaking with the professor and listening intently to what he had to say, I rethought my previous decision.

Lesson for all you undergraduates who think there might be even the remotest possibility that you will apply for graduate school: Get to know your professors and talk to them about your plans! Professors are a storehouse of valuable information, mine that storehouse for all that you can. Most professors and other academics genuinely enjoy helping students and steering then down the right path. Getting to know your professors and other staff who work on campus is a valuable way to develop relationships with people; at some point in the future you will need a recommendation for a job or graduate school. Start cultivating relationships with the people who can give you that recommendation as soon as you step foot on campus. Remember it is never too early in your career to cultivate relationships (i.e, networking).

The Test, the Application, and What’s to Come…

Now I find myself hard at work on the graduate school application and preparing to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). My school accepts the Graduate Record Examination test (GRE) or the GMAT exam as part of its admissions, however I think it would be best for me to take the GMAT which is designed specifically for applicants to graduate business schools. Some people say that the GRE is “easier” than the GMAT, however I have a couple of reasons for believing that the GMAT is a better option in my particular case: (1) my undergraduate degree is not in a business major, although I have completed numerous business courses, and (2) as the GMAT is considered the business school admissions test, I don’t want to appear as if I seeking an easier entry into the MBA program than my peers. I will be taking a practice GMAT exam this coming week and taking the actual exam some time in the middle of March.

I want to complete my MBA application as soon as possible so that in case I am accepted–and I’m pretty sure that I will be–I can apply for a “teaching assistantship,” which is a program that will pay a portion of my tuition and fees, as well as provide me with the opportunity to work on campus for 20 hours a week and receive a stipend. Receiving a thorough explanation of the financial aid benefits that the MBA program provides to support its students was another benefit that came by way of my geography professor.

I also had the pleasure of meeting the Marketing Director for the MBA program when I went to the graduate school to ask a question about the application. The Marketing Director was very informative and from talking to her I discovered that the last day to register to take the practice GMAT was TODAY! She even gave me her email and told me to email her my results on the exam. So now, the Marketing Director for the program knows my name. If that isn’t a +1 I don’t know what is.

Over the coming months I’ll keep you all informed throughout the graduate school application process.

Have any of you attended or are currently attending graduate school, for either an MBA program or something else? What did you think of the program?

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