Completing hefty application forms, writing an impeccable essay, waiting for what seems like an eternity for a response--these are just some of the requirements that make students sweat when they're in the process of applying to an MBA program. If you're an international student, however, the challenge of the admissions process is often raised a few notches. It's essential that you prove to the admissions board that you've got what it takes to not only make it through the MBA program once admitted--but that you'll excel at it. If you're an international student and you plan to apply for admittance to an MBA program, the time to start preparing is now. Here's how.
Obtain a Visa
Don't wait until you've been accepted into an MBA program to apply for a Visa; do it ahead of time. If you're decision to apply to a university in a foreign country was a last-minute one, start the Visa application process as soon as possible so that there are no delays should you be admitted to the school of your choice. There's no sense in applying to an MBA program abroad if you don't have a Visa or other necessary travel documents that are required to live and study there--so be sure and plan ahead when it comes to securing those types of documents. See a checklist of Visa documents.
Improve Your Language Skills
Fluency in the primary language of the country you wish to study is of the utmost importance--especially when applying to an MBA program there. It's tough to study and pass exams let alone write an essay or get through an admissions interview if you're not comfortable with the language, so make it a priority to really polish your language skills. You should also be prepared to take the TOEFL. Consider enrolling in classes, hiring a tutor, or joining clubs or social groups to really get your language skills up to par. You might also want to try reading books and watching movies in that specific language for additional exposure and practice. Immersing yourself as much as possible in the foreign language you want to learn is the best way to master it--and the sooner you start doing so, the more fluent and comfortable you'll be.
Practice Taking Tests
Struggles with language comprehension and unfamiliar examination procedures can make test-taking a serious challenge if you're an international student. Two tests that are often associated with MBA programs in the United States, for example, are the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) and the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Many business schools in the U.S. find passing scores of either of these tests to be acceptable, but some prefer one over the other. Conduct some research to find out which exams you'll be required to take--and then try a few practice rounds online. Practice exams for both the GMAT and the GRE are available, and are excellent resources to help you prepare.
Do Well in Your Interview
The MBA interview portion of the admissions process is your opportunity to make a great first impression--so make certain you're ready for that very important moment. Dedication to studying and practicing the language will undoubtedly make you much more at ease when the time comes for you to do your interview--just one more reason why mastering the primary language should be a top priority. During your interview, be confident and honest--and give sincere and thoughtful answers to the questions you are asked. Be prepared to explain to the admissions board how you would be an asset to their community, and give them some solid examples that will prove just why it is you're worth a "yes." You should also practice answers to the most common MBA interview questions.
It's important to remind yourself that countless other international students have traveled the road you're on. If you're feeling overwhelmed or just need some helpful advice, seek out someone who's been there, done that. Find out if the educational institution in which you're applying to hosts a support group or organization for international students--or look for one online. Talking with someone who has faced similar challenges for support and advice is a great way to get yourself headed in the right direction--and will probably provide you with some much-needed reassurance and relief. You can also ask questions and start discussions in the Business School Forum.
The admissions process for international students can take longer than it would for students who are already citizens, so be patient. Allow extra time for filing documents, for correspondence to be sent and received, and also for your application, transcripts, essay, and financial statements to be reviewed. Waiting is never easy, but it's a part of the process that simply can't be avoided.
If you want to get your MBA education abroad, don't let the admissions process stress you out. With some hard work, dedication, patience, and a positive attitude, you'll be able to put your best foot forward when it comes to getting into your school of choice--wherever in the world it might be. Get more tips for international students.