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What do current MBAs want incoming candidates to know?

Katie Schenk - November 27, 2017

What do current MBAs want
incoming candidates to know?

Should you do an MBA or should you pursue a Masters in Management or a Masters in Finance? Should you wait to do an EMBA? Do you need an advanced degree at all?

Where should you go? When should you apply? What should you include in your essays? What shouldn’t be there? How long should you spend studying for the GMAT? What should be in your budget? How much time do you need to apply for your visa?

Future MBAs have a lot of questions. And, advice will undoubtedly spill in from every quarter – from your friend’s older brother who did his MBA a few years back and alumni to admissions consultants and committees.

There’s almost as much information about preparing for an MBA as what the knowledge you gather pursuing one.

It’s almost unbelievable that MBAs are surprised by anything at all when they land on campus and begin with their classes. But, it still happens.

What was the most unexpected aspect of MBA study?

A lot of current MBA candidates are surprised by their classmates. Sure, they knew they would work closely with them, and that business schools aim for diverse classes. But, Akshat Mathur from India was taken aback by the serious support he’s been receiving at Cambridge Judge Business School.

“I was blown away by how helpful and cooperative everyone was – even when competing directly with each other!”

Bethany Thomaier, a fellow Judge MBA candidate, didn’t expect the close relationships. Working together was expected, but not the bonds that would form between them during the short time they have together.

“You hear that networking is a big part of the experience, but I feel like I’ve made so many friends for life.”

Meanwhile, Igor Belozerov from Russia was astounded by just how intensive everything was. But, perhaps, just like Mojisola Olawoyin with dual Nigerian and British citizenship, he’s found that it’s absolutely something that can be handled.

“Even though I prepared my mind for a rigorous academic year, the amount of academic plus consulting projects was quite intense, but the bigger surprise was the fact that the work always gets done, and there is still some extra time to have a balanced social life.”

Whether it’s the friendships or the sheer amount of tasks on a single to-do list, it’s clear that future MBAs should prepare themselves for intensity on a level they won’t understand until they’ve arrived on campus.

What’s the one piece of advice they would have wanted when applying for international programmes?

Mojisola believes a little too much emphasis is placed on rankings. You can certainly start your university search here, but it’s really best to establish your goals before you dive into those metrics. It’s more about what you want to achieve than it is about what the school has achieved before you arrive.

Both Igor and Akshat, though they come from very different countries found that more access to financial information would have been exceptionally helpful. Despite the time spent researching figures, budgets, and loans, there are still holes in the information out there. Igor, specifically, wishes he had known to convert his currency to pounds before getting on the plane.

And, Bethany, an American at Cambridge Judge, has found that the (surprising) intensity of her studies has made it difficult to fit in all the European travel she expected to do over weekends and study breaks.

“But you’re so busy during the term with classes and job applications and socialising, that it can be hard to find free weekends. Take advantage of the time before your MBA, in between terms, and before starting work to plan real vacations, and go on all the MBA-organised treks you can.”

So what would these students recommend to incoming students?

Cambridge University is divided into colleges that allow students to mingle with classmates outside of their fields – and many Judge MBA candidates believe it’s critical to connect and maintain a strong social life with these students as well as their business school cohorts. In fact, it’s widely advised.

So, if you’re not attending a school that’s divided into colleges, it’s worth venturing outside of your immediate circle and developing relationships that have nothing to do with your MBA.

And, students travelling with dependents should know they’re not limited to studying and parenting; there’s plenty of time for friendships and experiences according to Mojisola. She believes it’s possible to strike the right balance with a little extra preparation and plenty of communication.

“Don’t be shy to discuss your personal situation with your colleagues. The support system within the school is fantastic.”


What information and advice are you missing? Why not drop us a line and let us know? We’re so much more than a student loan provider. 


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