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10 New Year’s Resolutions For MBA Candidates

Start your 2024 MBA application on the right foot with these 10 top tips for the new year

Sat Dec 30 2023

Is this the year you decide to switch industries, expand your horizons, and climb the professional ladder?

Whatever the reason for your MBA, as application deadlines fast approach, the New Year is an ideal time to get ahead in your application.

As you get ready to dive into the MBA application process in 2024, here's 10 New Year's resolutions ideas for you.

1. Re-define your goals

Still not sure what you want out of business school? Before you embark on your MBA application journey, you need to figure out exactly what you want to get out of an MBA. 

What kind of structure—online, part-time, full time—would suit you best? Which industry do you want to get into or evolve within? What are your job and salary expectations? 

This will help you narrow down your options, and help your story come through clearly to the admissions team when you submit your application.

To learn more about your post-MBA career options at top business schools check out our MBA jobs and salary reviews!

2. Do more research

Don't be lazy with your research. Once you’ve figured out what you want, you’ll be able to find the program that fits with your goals.  

Take a look at all of the aspects of an MBA—class size, electives, internships, the school’s industry connections, networking opportunities, and more. 

Don’t just apply to a bunch of programs and hope for the best. Admissions teams can usually spot which applications are well tailored, and which are generic.

3. Be organized

Now's the time to up your organizational skills. The MBA application process is time-consuming and convoluted, so you need to be strategic. 

Double-check deadlines, plan ahead, allocate enough time to complete each task, and make sure to proofread everything. It’s also a good idea to allow a couple of extra days to have a trusted friend or colleague take a look at your CV, essays, and personal statement.

Read: 10 Podcasts Every B-School Applicant Should Listen To Over The Christmas Holidays

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4. Start your GMAT prep

If you've not started your test prep, now's the time. Whether you’re taking the GMAT exam, the new GMAT Focus or the GRE, you’ll need to practice. 

Enroll in GMAT prep courses if you feel like you need to, familiarize yourself with the tests’ content and structure, and don’t despair if you struggle at first. 

Test prep is a time-consuming task, so try creating a schedule that breaks it down into smaller tasks—don’t be tempted to cram! 

5. Take time to reflect

Even though it can be tempting to get the application out of the way as quickly as possible, there are parts of it that you can’t rush.

Your MBA application essay needs to be thoughtful, and the best essays are the products of genuine self-reflection. So, take your time with it. 

6. Take more initiative at work

Work experience is a key component of the MBA application. Even if you’re not working in a leadership or management role, there are still opportunities for you to be proactive by taking on additional projects and pitching new ideas. 

Admissions teams want to see how you’ve demonstrated leadership, so find ways to stand out in your organization.

7. Explore more extracurriculars

Business schools want to know how you’re going to contribute to the community beyond academic excellence and professional experience. 

Use the new year to build a well-rounded application by volunteering, strengthening your language skills, or exploring your creative side. When you write your application, be sure to explain how these experiences will enrich your cohort.

8. Build your personal brand

Personal branding is how you can differentiate yourself from other highly-qualified candidates. 

This month, create a CV that puts forward your achievements, skills, and interests as components of a comprehensive whole.

If there’s a cause you particularly care about, make sure that also comes through in your application. 

Read: How To Build Your Personal MBA Brand 0eeaa674fa31965ad5c96acce93b6f87ab1e905d.jpg © undrey/iStock

9. Expand your network

Hiding behind emails? Make sure you take the next step this year to broaden your network before applying to business school.

Initiate dialogue with alumni, current students, and faculty as much as you can throughout your application. They’ll be happy to share advice and talk about their own experience.

Don’t forget to also strengthen your existing network and reach out to potential MBA recommenders well in advance.

10. Create a Plan B

It’s possible your original plan will fall through, so make sure you have a backup. That will make things less stressful for you as you readjust.

If you’re set on going to business school this year, consider applying to a ‘safety’ school where you have a very strong chance of admission. 

If you’d rather reapply next year following potential rejection, have some steps in mind to grow in the meantime and ensure you’re a more competitive candidate next year.

Having a plan B is important, but hopefully you won't need it. If you make good on your New Year's resolutions, 2024 should be a successful year! 

Considering an MBA this year?

Download our MBA Application Guide 2024