Lately, entrepreneurship has been seeing a serious uptick as a favorite option of younger people entering the workforce. In fact, some people estimate that there are around 30 million small businesses in the United States today. That’s a lot of people who are vying to be leaders in the business world. Of course, many won’t succeed—most new ventures fail within the first five years after they take their first steps.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, with a business idea that you’re sure will be a huge success, you need to think about how to stand apart from the millions who want the same thing. That’s why, while attending business school to get an MBA isn’t a prerequisite for starting a business, it’s a good idea.

Business school will give you a deeper understanding of the actual work you’ll be doing on a daily basis, and putting the letters “MBA” on your resume will look good when you’re raising capital for any new venture. Truthfully, even if you’re not looking to start a new company, those three letters on your resume will put you ahead of any other applicants for a position you may be interested in pursuing.

With that in mind, how can you find the right MBA program for you, what is the application process like, and how do you pay for all of this? If these questions apply to you, read on for some great advice for any MBA applicant.

1. Start with some geography.

MBA Admissions Counselling

The first step is to understand where you want to live when you go to school. There are business schools all around the United States, but maybe you don’t want to live anywhere in the U.S. There are plenty of factors that may go into this. Maybe you want to live close to family, or maybe it’s the opposite—this is your first time living far from home, and you want to go far. Whatever your situation, deciding on a region will narrow down your search for the best business school.

2. Talk to a consultant who really understands the application process.

MBA Admissions Counselling

The MBA application process is involved, to say the least. You definitely need to score high on your GMAT, you may need an alumni interview, or you may need to write an essay. Not only that, the admission committee has likely seen it all, and a combination of factors will be what sets you apart from other MBA applicants who you hope will fade into the background. The whole process of applying to Harvard Business School or Columbia Business School is overwhelming.

The good news is that there are consultants whose job is to help applicants like you navigate the application process. These are professionals, and they know what admission offices are looking for. Looking into MBA admission counselling is a great idea, both for local and international applicants. Consultants can help you decide which is your dream school, and then they’ll help you get in to the top MBA program on your wishlist.

3. Make a list.

MBA Admissions Counselling

Speaking of wish lists, before you get on the phone to a consultant, make a list of the top business schools the country has to offer. Your list will likely include Wharton, Stanford, MIT, Chicago Booth and Kellogg, among others. Take a look at their respective websites, and see if the coursework speaks to you and what kind of scholarships they can offer (if that’s a factor in your decision-making process).

Not all MBA programs specialize in the same areas. Are you looking to be a tech giant, or will you target schools that have courses that appeal to a current student interested in nonprofits? Maybe you want to launch a fashion brand, and are excited by innovations, like gel nail stickers, that big players in the industry are launching. List the pros and cons for each MBA program depending on your needs.

After all, it doesn’t matter if you’re inspired to launch a manicure salon specializing in gel nails and nail stickers or a nonprofit that aims to solve world hunger. A strong application, and in the long run, true success stories come from alumni who went for the top MBA program for their needs and aspired to fulfill their passion.

Applying for an MBA isn’t all about your GMAT score, and it’s not even about your undergraduate GPA. Speak to a consultant to get some insights, and be clear about what you want to get out of the experience. Following these tips will guide you in the right direction.

By Punit