With more scholarships and greater access to funding than ever before, gone are the days when business school was just for the privileged few. Nevertheless, even the MBA application process, from test taking to the application fees, is not cheap.
To Wall Street bankers, application costs might seem minimal, but if you’re applying from a country with a weak currency, from a job outside finance, or alongside other financial commitments – it all adds up.
Here are six money-saving tips to help you apply for business school, without breaking the bank.
1. Plan to take the GMAT or GRE just once
It’s nice to have the option of taking these tests more than once if something goes wrong on test day, but it isn’t necessary to take these expensive tests multiple times if you are as prepared as you can be the first time.
Taking the test when you are not properly prepared just to see what the test-taking experience is like is a waste of money. You should be able to practice mock tests well before test day so that you are operating at your best. Data also shows that after a while, there are diminishing gains achieved by retaking the test.
If you have fundamentally changed your studies and approach, and have upped your scores on mock tests, then by all means take the test again. But It isn’t worth throwing money at the GMAT or GRE thinking multiple tries will automatically increase your score.
Read: What GMAT Score Do You Need For Harvard?
2. Apply to a limited number of MBA programs
Be strategic about your applications. While it can work in your favor to try out your application on schools you are not as passionate about to gain experience for your dream school application, that takes time and money. You may be better off applying to your dream school first (in round one) and only putting in other applications if that does not work out.
There is no set rule for how many schools you should apply to but remember to apply to schools with different levels of competitiveness (especially if scholarships are an important factor for you). Never apply to a program that you would not actually attend.
3. Skip campus visits
This depends of course on how far you are from said campus, but an international trip to visit a school is not actually essential. It’s a nice-to-have, helping you demonstrate commitment and get a feel for the place. If you do skip campus visits, you’ll have to compensate by demonstrating your commitment through research and engaging with students and alumni in your city or online.
In our new COVID-10 world, campus visits are less common, levelling the playing field for those who can’t afford to jet across borders. Most business schools closed their campuses following the coronavirus outbreak and plans to reopen campuses for the next academic year, or continue learning online, vary globally.
Check out the latest COVID-19 campus updates for business schools in the United States and Europe
4. Join a mentorship program
There are a lot of amazing programs aimed at widening access to business school for under-represented groups. Project Access and The Forte Foundation are great examples of these. Even if you are not lucky enough to participate in an actual program, don’t underestimate how many alumni have a ‘pay it forward’ attitude.
5. Find out about MBA application fee waivers
Don’t let the MBA application fee be a deterrent to getting into your dream school. Many schools will waive application fees if you have engaged with them (at fairs, for webinars, or in person). They are also likely to waive application fees if you are struggling financially. Either way, ask nicely and convey that the school means something to you, and this is not just a ploy to apply to a bunch of schools without paying.
6. Cut costs without compromising on quality
If you’re considering working with an MBA admissions consultant, know that lower prices don’t always mean lower quality. The top US-based admissions consultants, like Personal MBA Coach and Stacy Blackman Consulting, come at a premium price.
However, Admissions Africa, for example, provides the same content and insights as its US and European peers at a fraction of the price.
Another great example is MBA Crystal Ball in India. The move to online caused by coronavirus has made this an accessible option, no matter where you are in the world. The price differential comes down to currency differences and market dynamics and not the quality of work.
Saving money comes with a trade off in time and effort. You’ll need to compensate by making sure you have read up on every aspect of the application and that you don’t miss out on the extra advantages money can buy. While it is great to have an admissions consultant on your side, you can still successfully apply to business school without one. You’ll need to compensate with your own research and by reaching out to other people who can assist you.
Are you considering business school?
In our BusinessBecause MBA Application Guide 2020-21, we list the application deadlines for the world’s top business schools and guide you through each stage of the MBA application process with insider tips and insights from leading MBA admissions directors.