By Linda Abraham, founder and president of Accepted.com
To apply now or not to apply now – that is the million dollar (or at least hundred-thousand dollar) question.
You should move forward with your MBA applications if, and only if, you answer "Yes" to each of the following questions:
1. Do you have a specific goal that requires an MBA? Needless to say, if you can accomplish your career goals without a hundred-thousand dollar degree, then you may as well skip this step in the process. Of course, if you have a ton of money and the time to spare, and simply want an MBA for the sake of having an MBA, and if you can answer "Yes" to the remaining questions, then by all means apply to b-school. You may have trouble convincing the adcom that you're worthy of spot (since you don't really need the degree), but…you never know.
2. Do you have the test scores, a GPA and work experience that are competitive at your target schools? If you are not competitive in these areas, then you should take some time to improve your profile. Take a course or two to prove that your low GPA was a result of past immaturity and doesn't reflect current abilities; retake the GMAT (and do better!); and gain another year of qualitative work experience before applying to b-school next year (or even the next year, if need be). Alternative: Apply to different schools where you are competitive.
3. Do you have non-quantitative qualifications that are competitive at your target programs such as leadership experience, international experience, extracurricular/volunteer activities, etc.? Same as above. You won't impress the adcom unless you prove that you're more than just a bunch of numbers – you're a well-rounded, unique individual as well. One with interests and passions and worldly experiences.
If you answered "No" to any of the above, then you should wait and apply to b-school when that "No" can be turned into a "Yes." Maybe that will be next year or the following year; or maybe you'll decide that an MBA isn't for you. In either case, you'll have saved yourself the time and effort of applying when applying now was clearly not right for you.
And if you answered "Yes" to all of the above, then congratulations – you're about to embark on an exciting, challenging, and incredibly rewarding experience!
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com, the premier admissions consultancy and essay editing company that has helped applicants around the world gain admissions to over 450+ top schools since 1994. Linda is also the author of the newly-released book MBA Admission for Smarties.