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How I Went From MBA Application Failure to Success

Diane-LeI can see it all so clearly in my head. I was two years into my career after finishing undergrad and I decided I wanted to get my MBA. In my excitement, I started researching schools and best GMAT prep programs. Within days my dining room table was filled with GMAT prep books and laminate yellow sheets and I shared on Facebook how excited I was to begin my MBA journey. But after two weeks of nightly studying alone, I began to lose interest. My study and research time decreased each day until I stopped altogether and my prep books went into the closet to collect dust.

That was my MBA attempt number one and it was a complete failure. After that first attempt, I was convinced I would never get over the workload and get into an MBA program. Three years later, I decided I wanted to take a second shot at my MBA and begin the journey again.

This time, I did things very differently and ended up at my dream school, UCLA Anderson, with the help of Forté Foundation. So what did I do right my second time around?

Find a Support System

The more people you have on your journey, the easier it is to stay on track through those long hours of GMAT prep and school research and essays. My first time I only told my Facebook friends – then I spent many hours by myself and my computer only.

My second time around I went to as many MBA fairs and school info sessions and professional women’s groups as I could. I met other people who were interested in pursuing their MBAs and together we arranged group study sessions and attended events together. It was great to have them for support and accountability.

Pick a Favorite Coffee Shop (or Place to Do Work)

Between researching schools, studying for the GMAT and writing essays, there will be many hours where you will need to sit quietly and get a lot of work done. For me, I found that I could never concentrate adequately at home, as I was constantly distracted by pets, roommates and the fridge.

It wasn’t until I went to a coffee shop that I could finally concentrate and get quality work done.

Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing It

It’s no easy feat to get into business school and there will be days when you aren’t motivated to work. During those times, I would remind myself of the bigger picture of why I wanted to go to business school.

For me, it was about creating a career that could help support and inspire other women to continue on in their careers.

For you, it could be about being the first in your family to attend graduate school or being the only woman in your department with a MBA. Whatever it is, use it to motivate you through those long days.

I know it’s hard but I promise the payout is worth it in the end. Use resources available to you, like Forté, and good luck!

Diane Le is a Forté Fellow at the UCLA Anderson School of Business, Class of 2019 and a Senior Manager of Ecommerce at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

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