Getting a US MBA (Part I)
The United States is home to many of the world’s top MBA programs and has a vast array of schools and program choices. Many of its schools provide opportunities not only in the United States but also globally. In addition, international students are welcome applicants in US schools. They contribute to student body diversity, bring professional experience from outside the US and, very importantly, provide different perspectives to students and faculty, broadening the horizons of all.
Though business schools in the United States traditionally offer 2-year full-time MBA programs, encouraging an internship between the first and second years, MBA programs in the US have expanded in recent years to include 1-year programs, distance learning programs and online, part-time MBA programs. In addition, some programs offer students the exciting opportunity to study in Asia, Europe and the United States. Plentiful options also exist for the experienced professional seeking Executive MBA training.
That said, international applicants sometimes find attending US schools to be tricky, requiring a lot of advanced preparation— especially in the post-September 11th and post-financial crisis environment.
A great method to find out detailed information about American and European business schools is to attend different MBA tours, which hold forums all over the world to connect interested applicants with business school admissions staff.
Assessing Language Challenges
Some students may find that getting used to life in the US is challenging. Academic, language, or personal adjustments can be difficult, so be sure to give yourself a chance to adjust—for most of us, these things just take time.
Classroom time, for example, is packed with discussion, debate, projects, and student presentations. International students will want to familiarize themselves with teaching styles prevalent in the US and be sure that they are comfortable with them, or at the least open to them before school begins.
In addition, for non-native English speakers who lack experience in English-speaking classrooms and professional environments, language difficulties may be an obstacle. As part of your b-school application, non-native English speakers will be required to take the TOEFL exam, an English proficiency test. This test requires study and rigorous preparation for many applicants. Score requirements vary according to school, but most schools do provide clear guidelines on what score is acceptable. After completing the TOEFL, the best way to meet the challenge of entering a program in English is to practice and prepare.
Take English as a Second Language classes, sometimes offered during the summer at particular business schools, or a Business English course, if a student’s vocabulary and business language is more problematic. However, keep in mind that with foreign languages improvement does not happen overnight. It requires time, hard work, and patience.
It’s also important to note that one of the primary factors in obtaining internships and full-time jobs in the US is extremely strong spoken English language skills. For those students whose English language skills aren’t strong, they often don’t fare well in the interview process. So, they find themselves without the types of opportunities that they’re really seeking.
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