We all remember our application process. The GMAT, essay questions, finding the perfect references and taking language assessment tests. It takes time and effort, and you sometimes lose your motivation along the way. But looking back, there is something beautiful about the journey. You push boundaries, go the extra mile and you discover yourself along the road.
As a first step, you want to ask yourself the question: “Why am I applying to this particular program in this particular school?”. It’s safe to say that your motivation should go way beyond the appealing position in the Financial Times business school rankings. True motivation requires research, and there are many resources to guide you through it. The HEC programs website thoroughly explains each and every detail about any program you may be interested in. Each program has a Marketing team at your service and their brochures can be requested online. To make it even more personal, join a webinar to ask your questions and talk to a recruiter or a student! It’s always possible you want to find out more about the life on campus. Overall, that is where you will probably end up living. In that case, a good place to start is the HEC Experience blog. And if that does not satisfy you, why not get in touch with a student and ask them for a Skype call?
Once you have decided on a program and you are sure HEC is the right school for you, it’s time to get to work. And that is when you become aware of the checklist you are facing. A seven-item checklist that will take you months to complete. But of course, your motivation is strong enough to keep smiling, even when it has been months since you crossed something off this list:
1. Tackle the GMAT or the GRE: To do well on these tests, you want to take your time to practice. How much time that is depends on your current level and your study method. There are several forums online to get your tips and tricks on how to ace it. Upon completion, you become part of the club of people who say they never want to speak of this test again, but bring it up in almost every conversation.
2. Take an assessment test to prove your English proficiency: No matter how fluent you are, if English is not your native language, you are going to have to proof your skills before you can apply. One way to look at it is as a great opportunity to find out what level you actually are. And you will need your English at HEC, because it’s the only way to sometimes hide from the “baguette fromage et patati et patata” you will so happily learn here.
3. Convince the right people to write the perfect reference letter: For this part, you want to hit the golden combination: one professional and one academic reference. Time to give the boss at your former internship a call and ask for a favor. And ask yourself whether there ever was a professor who thought you were brilliant because that is the person you want to send an email.
4. Answer the famous essay questions: Some find these annoying, but it’s the most interesting part of the application process for sure. This thinking exercise makes you reflect on your life. Adapt the lighting, put on some music and take the time to ask yourself who you are and who you want to become. This is also the moment where you can show the recruiters what your passions are and what drives you. That is why you want to avoid talking about school and internships here. This is where open up about that one time you almost died in a snowstorm and how that made you an even more eligible candidate than you already were.
5. Squeeze in some more professional experience with last minute internships: If you feel like you are lacking some professional experience, try to add at least a few weeks to your record. This has to be relevant experience. You will get questions about the “what and why”, and you want the story of your life to be coherent.
6. Kill it at your university exams to boost your academic transcripts: Academic excellence is another thing the recruiters are looking for. In many cases, however, this ship has already sailed. You will be applying before you have your final GPA, so you will apply based on your existing grades.
7. Fill out the questions in the online application portal and pay the application fee: From your address to the size of your shoes, the recruiters want to know it all. I suggest you create that account on the application platform as soon as you know you want to apply.
If this list seems long or you are afraid you can’t confidently check every item on it, just remember that the recruiters take a holistic approach when assessing your application. This basically means that you don’t have to freak out if your GMAT score is not impressive, or if you weren’t Mr. Highgrades in the first year of university. In the end, HEC is looking for interesting people and you can compensate a lot with the essay questions. Another reason to put enough thought into those. Once you have completed this list, you can submit your application. One scary click signals the beginning of the longest few weeks of your life, in which you anxiously await an invitation for an interview. Now if all that isn’t fun I don’t know what is. What I do know, is that in the end, it is all very much worth it.