Applying to business school is expensive AF and people try to justify it by saying it is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of business school.
If you are a do-gooder like me, you are trying to reduce costs in both instances. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind when applying to MBA programs (and this espeically applies to those in non-profit and non-business roles) is that you are amongst business men and women with larger discretionary spending accounts that the rest of the population. This means more investment and more waste. What some might do on their own, those with money rather pay someone else who can do it. There is nothing wrong with that (spending makes the world go wrong and keep the economy moving). But for little ole’ me, I need to be cognizant of how much I am spending and where my money goes. Lets do a tally so far.
Manhattan GMAT ($1400)- Somewhat helpful but not worth the full $1400. An indepedent post is coming on this, I promise
Magoosh ($100)- I have been using so many resources that I haven’t even dug into Magoosh yet. This is the best deal IMO. Plus, when you are done you can sell you access to someone else and get a good chunk of your money back.
Target Test Prep ($99 per month before deals etc)- This is an amazing platform for reviewing content. The struggle is that it takes sooo long for me to get through (probably because I have so many gaps in my content knowledge). This is costing me a lot more than I wanted it to. I may table it for a bit and come back.
Forte On-Demand MBA Program ($350)- I was feeling anxious that I am not part of any MBA prep program as a minority student and so I signed up for this. Honestly I haven’t gotten much out of it yet and I am wondering why I spent the money. I will probably circle back and complete all the webinars to squeeze all the knowledge I can out of the program.
Essay Snark Countdown to Round 1 Apps ($40)- Finally, I start to feel good about the money I spend. This countdown is a weekly email chock full of information on what you need to accomplish this week to have you application ready by early September. I am learning a lot and Essay Snark is a great resource for those of us who do not want to shell out money for a consultant. I really think that when it comes to applying, effort and time can get you most of the way.
Money to Spend in the Future
I think moving forward I will spend money for a few GMAT tutoring sessions and a some essay review. I refuse to spend on consultants (especially after I did the work of speaking with a few and did not get a great impression). As of right now, my opinion is that money spent on the GMAT or visiting schools is money well spent. There are a tons of people who are trying to get a piece of this MBA pie, and many want to take advantage of the fear of young applicants. There is nothing wrong with hiring a consultant if you need one, but just be careful.
It has been 8 months since I updated the site which is scary for two reasons.
1. Have a really been on this MBA journey for that long?
2. So much has happened and I have failed to keep this site up-to-date.
I hope that I can look back and see the ups and downs that I have experienced so far so an applicant. I think my experience can be broken down into three parts.
- Networking/School visits
- Money spent (consultants, etc)
I will begin with a GMAT update in this post, but I will make blogging a weekly occurrence. Everything changes from week to week and its interesting to see how my emotions change based on the interactions of conversations I have with folks.
The GMAT has been my main focus for the past 3 months and I believe it will continue to be my main priority for another two months. This doesn’t mean I am neglecting other parts of my application, but it does mean I am increasingly aware of the importance the GMAT has in my overall application and profile. Plus, once your start the climb, you want to finish. I have always had the goal of seeing a 7– score. I know there are many who are accepted into top programs with scores in the mid 600s, but I want to prove to myself and to others that I have strong abilities and can thrive in the business school environment. I want the adcoms to have the confidence that I can make the switch from non-profit to business with ease. With that said, I have been using three studying methods.
- Manhattan GMAT course. I will give a full review of the course in a separate post, but I would give it a 7 overall. For someone like me who was scoring in the 500s on practice test and worried about not seeing improvement, it was a great investment to become a bit more structured in the way I attack my studying. At the same time, I don’t think the course taught me much that I couldn’t learn on my own from forums and other cheaper sources. I did see score improvement, so I can’t be too upset, but I now realize that the $1400 I spent could have been directed to private tutoring to really attack the holes in my knowledge that are preventing me from pushing ahead.
- Magoosh– I purchased a Magoosh account but haven’t used it as much as I should. The practice questions are really good though. I plan on using it more in the coming weeks.
- Target Test Prep– I have been really impressed with TTP although I don’t know why it is so expensive compared to other similar sites (i.e Magoosh). TTP just focuses on Quant. What I do like is that the test at the end of the chapters force you to go back and review content to ensure you full understand that subject before moving on. there have been times where I have to go through the questions and content several times before I starting to score 90% on the easy test. It takes me a while just to get through one chapter, which is another reason I which it was a but cheaper. I do want to get through all 39 modules though.
I am happy to report that I have seen improvement in my scores! I was at the 500 mark for a while, and that was so discouraging. Last week I scored at 630 on a MGMAT test which just raised my confidence by 300%. I am taking my first official GMAT next week, and my goal is to score somewhere in the 600s so that I can push myself into the 700s by the next test in August (easier said than done!).
So I took the GMAT practice test.
Scored at 510. Yikes.
Luckily I have about a year to bring my score up. I won’t study for a year as that has been shown not to be the most effective strategy. Instead I will study for 2 months and then take it in December. Depending on how I do (Im guessing I can’t improve more than 120 points in one sitting) I will do another intense round of studying and take the GMAT again in March. My goal is a 710/720 to make sure I am competitive for top schools. I will document my study sessions and note techniques that I find really work.
I will be slightly open and fully honest about my chances of getting into a top MBA Program.
First, here are my dream schools.
I have a more extensive list but it is not solidified yet. I plan on applying to these three schools no matter what people tell me. First, I rather no for sure that I took the chance. Second, these three school offer the most comprehensive and diverse MBA programs. Some other schools are still rigid in the way the gear their program to the finance sector. While I 100% want to make sure I have firm foundation in business, I also want to make sure I have opportunities to apply my learning to my intended field.
Now for the stats:
GPA: Below 3.5 (ouch)
GMAT: no yet taken
Work History: All non-profit. Worked at a top NYC hospital, then moved abroad to work for a small NGO in Latin America.
Goals: A career in social enterprise, enterprise management, corporate social responsibility
Ethnicity/Gender: Black Female (I promise you this doesn’t get you as much points as people think)
First Steps: I’ve made a pretty intense study plan so that I can take the GMAT in December. I know I will probably have to take it more than once which is okay. I plan to study to get the highest score possible, take a break for a month or so, and then return to intense studying. I think that way the skills and experience and build upon themselves. I plan to study for no longer than 3 months straight. My goal GMAT score is 720