If you are one of the roughly 23,000 students about to enroll in a ‘top-50’ global MBA program this year, you’ve already done a great job at conquering the MBA admissions criteria. However, the skills you cultivated to gain entry into business school are poor proxies for the capabilities you’ll need to succeed in business school itself. Given your considerable investment of time, money, and effort in pursuing an MBA education, can you afford not to have a pre-matriculation strategy?
For Ivan Kerbel, CEO and Founder of Practice LLC and The Practice MBA Summer Forum, pre-MBA coursework not only ensures that you hit the ground running, but may become a critical component in all aspects of your business school experience, whether academic, professional, or cultural. “If you are a new member of the MBA class of 2015, your goal this summer should be to create a vision for your time in business school and at least a rough plan of how you can apply your interests and abilities to both acquire new knowledge and project yourself into your future career.”
As the former Director of The Career Development Office at The Yale School of Management and himself an MBA graduate of The Wharton School, Kerbel is well placed to judge the skill set that will best serve you at business school.
“Completing your b-school finance homework requires expertise with financial modeling via Excel, rather than quantitative reasoning concepts honed for the GMAT, and making sense of accounting depends on performing debt and equity capital structure research via Capital IQ, an online financial data platform.” Working knowledge of these tools, and familiarity with a Bloomberg Terminal, represents a facet of MBA preparedness that is critical to an MBA’s productivity and effectiveness, but Kerbel argues that this is only implicitly acknowledged as a prerequisite for matriculating to business school.
“Compare entry to business school with that of medical school,” he explains. “Your admittance entails not only passing the MCAT, but undertaking a year of biology, a year of physics, two years of chemistry, and a range of additional prerequisite coursework. But you can enroll in business school without any prior knowledge of accounting, finance, marketing, or operations (and the analytic skills that go with them). The result is a first-year MBA core curriculum experience in which accounting courses are populated both by students who are CPAs and students who have never encountered income statements, balance sheets, or statements of cash flow.
Kerbel sees additional challenges for those heading to business school from abroad. “There are additional nuances and hurdles not addressed by the MBA admissions process. Agreeing and disagreeing with others during class discussion without losing face, and raising your hand to express an opinion, are not common classroom behaviors across cultures. Neither are a host of soft skills that inform the classroom experience, professional networking (including how to behave during ‘coffee chats’, a fixture of the MBA recruiting process), and social interactions integral to completing group work assignments and participating in business school club activities.”
Unless you were an undergraduate business major, or a veteran of an intensively skills-based work environment such as investment banking or management consulting, starting an MBA program without first acquiring a comprehensive set of academic and professional skills and tools can feel overwhelming. Likewise, familiarizing yourself with your new host country, while also grappling with the newness of being an MBA, is daunting, and can make it all but impossible to form friendships outside of your own circle of countrymen and women.
Business schools do offer pre-term orientation courses that address the variability in training and experience among incoming MBAs, as well as help facilitate international students’ transition to a new environment. Achieving parity, however, remains stubbornly out of reach for most programs. During the summertime prior to the official start of the school year, time is limited, faculty and staff resources are stretched, and pre-term course content is often scaled to accommodate sizable portions, if not the whole, incoming class, thus leaving less scope for customization (e.g., language and culture orientation programs, for example, that address issues specific to different countries of origin for incoming MBAs).
The end result is that MBA orientation programs work well to provide an introductory or refresher course function for new students on a limited set of key topics – such as quant skills and statistical analysis – but most are not of sufficient scope or duration to fundamentally alter disparities in students’ relative levels of preparedness.
Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattsymonds/2013/05/29/heading-to-business-school-an-essential-pre-mba-strategy-to-hit-the-ground-running/#10b1cb0b5d3a