By: Christina Yu
1. Suddenly Everything “Counts” Again: Miss the cool random stuff you did in high school to round out your “extracurricular profile”? Competing in the long-jump, publishing stories, running the class multicultural society, and starring in West Side Story? MBA programs select for interesting students with diverse interests (during interview season, you’re expected to name a few clubs you plan to join to help make student life more “robust”). So, if you traded in your pom-poms for pumps and power-suits and your voice lessons for Vault guides, the MBA application is an excuse to revive your inner high-schooler (just a pinch). It can also be a great reason to jump-start your involvement with a non-profit or even start one of your own. For those who don’t have leadership experience at work, there are creative ways to demonstrate management potential in your community. See a social problem out there? Now is the time to fix it.
2. An Excuse to “Read” Again: People in business are expected to possess a breadth and depth of knowledge. So expand your understanding of different industries and learn about new trends and technologies. Have a birthday coming up? Get free magazines through a frequent flier program? Choose The Economist instead of Brides this year.
3. Great Debates After You’ve Surveyed the Room and There’s No One Cute and Just You and Your Friends for the 3rd Time This Week at Hotel Ganesvoort or 230 on 5th (popular rooftop banker watering-holes in NYC): Who doesn’t have an opinion about MBA programs (good or bad) and his or her own two cents to add about who/what is responsible for wrecking the economy?
4. GMAT Bonding Sessions: It often takes some kind of stress or trauma to solidify a group. Survived Data Sufficiency? Know how to tell if a number is divisible by 11 and that it’s “forbidden to” and not “forbidden from”? Share your horror story about the nuts and bolts of the GMAT experience (vein scanners, dry erase boards, crappy markers, the whole locker-and-waiting-room-thing, not to mention the “longest five minutes” of your life, those who have taken it will know what I’m talking about) and rock your “Knerd” shirt from your favorite test prep provider as a badge of courage. Like all adrenaline-inducing activities, GMAT survival makes for instant group effervescence.
5. You Get to Think Deeply About Yourself: So here are the unspoken essay rules: no industry-specific jargon, boasting, name-dropping, or taking credit for stuff you didn’t do. It’s time to think about things like, “What makes me tick as a man? What have I done that demonstrates my character and unique thinking process?” For those who enjoy the more contemplative pleasures of life, the impending struggle of the MBA essay (most schools release topics late August) is an opportunity for self-reflection in the midst of the rat race.
6. Cross-Country Travel With Friends: Check out the flying buttresses of Chicago Booth’s Winter Garden, the idyllic hills of Tuck at Dartmouth… Scope out Sloan and stroll down the Charles. Perfect excuse for a road trip.
7. Look Forward to Change: Suddenly everything you’re doing now seems so much sweeter because it’s about to end.
8. It’s Really Time to Grow Up: Be decisive, take “one for the team,” weigh short-term/long-term, listen to all sides of the story. Forget the “douchey” businessman stereotype. Roll up your sleeves and act like a leader. You might just find your personal problems evaporating once you think “group” and “big picture.”
9. Choices, Choices, Choices: GMAT problem of the day? How many different permutations of an MBA experience can you get with 15 concentrations, 76 clubs, and 4 international treks? From concentrations to clubs to pre-orientation “mystery” trips… MBA programs offer a thousand ways to personalize the process for those who like their stuff customized.
10. Appreciate What You’ve Got: Working 9 to 9 totally suck? Sacrificed your senior year to do a second internship? Lost your investment on a risky business venture? In the eyes of the adcom, this is not wasted youth but can be “a demonstration of endurance, innovation, and willpower.” Think of it as a way to reclaim the value of certain experiences. Including failures.