Ever wonder what it’s like to be a business school student? An incoming first year can tell you from her point of view.
If you think it’s all world travel and happy hours after you get accepted into your business school of choice, pay attention: there’s lots of things you’ll have to do before you even set foot on campus for day one of orientation, and some might surprise you. Beyond filling out financial aid documents, buying a new computer and finding new living arrangements, there’s new things you’ll have to learn upfront, tests and background checks you must pass and even more money you’ll have to shell out. The work starts well before your first day of class, so get ready. Here’s just five of the things you have to do after you get accepted but before you start business school:
1. Pay the deposit
If you want to go to there, you have to put some money down to hold your spot. The amount you have to pay varies from school to school, so look into that before you apply and prepare by saving up some money. Initial deposits typically range from $1,000 up to $6,000, and depending on when you get in you might only have a couple weeks to scrape it together (if you’re in a high-paying field already this might be easier for you than it was for me). Though I know choosing a business school is a tough and important decision to make, having one or two top picks among all the schools you apply to before you’re accepted will help you avoid paying more than one deposit. Though you can decide not to go to a school after you’ve paid your deposit with little consequences, you will lose your money.
2. Send your official transcript
Many schools only require an unofficial transcript with your application. So, after you’re accepted, there’s still some things the school has to double check before you are cleared for class. Calling up your undergraduate school and ordering an official transcript may seem trivial, but it’s an important step that, if forgotten, could prevent you from starting business school. Make sure you pay attention to the deadlines. The good news is, many universities now let you request transcripts online. I did mine all through email and had my official transcript in a few days.
3. Pass a background check
You offer up a lot of information about yourself in your business school applications. You list former employers, salaries and bonuses, and even open up about your goals and challenges you’ve faced in your essays. But, there’s nothing stopping you from lying on your applications. So, leading business schools hire a third party to check up on your education history and grades, GMAT scores and employment history. They might also run a credit check. And, you probably have to pay for this service as well — expect to pay about $50. During this process, a few of my fellow classmates worried that their employers, who didn’t know they were leaving for business school, would learn about their acceptance. But the background checking service was very discrete when they called their employers’ HR departments and the checks went pretty smoothly for everyone I spoke to. But, beware: sometimes the checks can take an excruciating few weeks to be completed. This is normal. If something serious is holding up your check you’ll be notified. And, once you get the all-clear, you finally feel like you’re “in” for real.
4. Get your shots
Looking through the to-do list provided by my school of things I have to do before I start classes, I was surprised to see that I have to provide proof that I received a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, something I got when I was a baby. I also have to prove that I have gotten a meningococcal meningitis vaccine, get one if I’ve never been vaccinated or sign a form saying I don’t want a vaccine. (Meningitis affects young adults and those living in communal housing, like dorms, are more at risk to contract it.) These requirements vary from place to place depending on what state you’re studying in, but every school will have weird health-related requirements that you’ll have to comply with before you’ll be allowed to register.
5. Pass any tests
Many people take classes before they apply to or start business school. While those classes are optional, some programs do require you to pass tests that they provide before you can register or start classes. These ensure that even if you don’t have a finance or accounting background you’re familiar with the math, accounting and finance skills you’ll need to survive the demanding business school classes of a top notch program. They want to make sure everyone has at least the same level of basic knowledge. Other requirements may include essays, self-assessments and class reading. Work like this could take several days to complete, so make sure you set aside time to get it done, then register for any additional classes that might help you in the areas where you’re less proficient, which are usually offered during orientation.
What did you have to do before you started your MBA program? Did any of the requirements of your school surprise you? Share your experiences in the comments below.
(Photo:Dmitry Lobanov /Shutterstock)