Not every student applying to business school has her math foundation in order. I surely didn’t. But fortunately, I was so unfamiliar with basic number crunching that I forced myself to take undergraduate courses even before applying for an MBA program. Sitting in class and absorbing material is surprisingly uplifting. It also helps prepare you for the business school experience. And getting A’s was new to me.
You can also study on your own, and I’ve listed some options below.
Get Yourself a Good Grade
If you are in the United States, check your local state school extension program. For example, when I was applying, I decided to make up for my lack of prerequisites by taking seven courses from the University of Virginia’s extension program in the DC area. I have candidates who have done well at other extension programs, such as the University of California Berkeley program.
If you are overseas or traveling a lot, an accredited online course from a real school may work for you. Don’t fall for unaccredited schools that advertise all over the Internet. Try schools that are real, such as major state schools or known names such as Boston University, Johns Hopkins University, Indiana University or the University of North Carolina. Also, take the course for credit—you want an official transcript – you’d be surprised what an extra document from a real school with lots of A’s can do.
If You Just Want to Be Serious
If you already have a pretty good GPA (3.4 or above) from a strong undergraduate program, you might want to supplement your academic experience with some quantitative or business stats courses that do not give you a college-level grade. You can learn the fundamentals to be able to sit in an MBA classroom and keep up. One brand-name option is Tuck’s Online Bridge Program, designed, as they say on their website, “for recent liberal arts graduates, PhDs, and other high-potential employees with little or no business education or experience.” The program offers modules in accounting, finance, managerial economics (decision science) and more.
For those who might think they are bad in quantitative courses, the MBAMath program might be for you. MBAMath is an online course that is also recommended by a number of MBA programs for students who are already admitted. It is self-paced and allows you to make lots of mistakes. The program’s philosophy is “getting it right eventually, rather than getting it right the first time.” You do get a form of a transcript, which might counterbalance poor grades.
If you have no business experience at all, and want to challenge yourself, you might want to look at the Certified Associate Business Manager Designation. This designation is offered to those who complete a full pre-MBA curriculum. This program is a big commitment, and if you want to re-invent yourself as an educated, focused, directed business school candidate, this option is definitely worth considering.
These are but a few of the choices available — if you do your research, you’ll probably find a whole lot more than I’ve been able to dig up here. But the important point is to make the effort. Show your initiative, show your ability to learn from your mistakes, and go forward.
Remember, you can’t learn less.