How to Prepare for Business School While You’re Still in High School
Like admission to law school and medical school, admission to business school is highly competitive. Some top Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs have acceptance rates as low as 6%.
If you’re interested in attending business school, the best time to start preparing is now. By knowing your goals and working toward them during high school, you’ll have an advantage.
So, what can you do to prepare for business school while you’re still in high school? First, let’s look at some essential skills for business majors.
Important Skills for Business Majors
Successful business majors (and business professionals) need skills including:
- Communication (oral and written)
- Critical and analytical thinking
- Time management
- Mathematics/data skills
Increasingly, successful professionals in almost any field also need an understanding of technology. The more you develop the above skills during high school, the more prepared you’ll be to become a business major and/or attend business school.
How to Prepare for Business School
Now, here are some specific tips for building the skills any successful business professional needs.
Take the Right Classes
Business schools want students who are skilled with both numbers and words. That means you should take advanced courses in mathematics and English. If your school offers public speaking, it’s a good idea to enroll in that course too.
You should also try to take classes in computers, business law, economics, accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, and marketing if they’re available at your school.
If you’re not sure about your options, talk to your guidance counselor. Ask what business and finance-related courses you can sign up for.
And of course, simply taking these classes isn’t enough. Work hard in these classes. Earn good grades and make sure that you’re learning and absorbing as much information as possible. You may never use the Pythagorean Theorem again, but you’ll certainly use classes that teach you business skills.
Join Business Clubs
Most high schools have extracurricular activities and clubs focused on business. If your school has them, try to join one to three of the following:
- Business Professionals of America
- DECA (focuses on marketing, hospitality, finance, and management)
- Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
- National Business Honor Society
- National Beta Club (focuses on leadership development)
- Entrepreneurship Club
- Speech/Debate Club
These organizations offer valuable opportunities like:
- Activities focused on professionalism, self-improvement, and leadership
- Role playing business scenarios and skills testing
- Access to workshops and seminars on business
- Networking with business professionals
In addition, extracurricular participation develops your teamwork and communication skills.
You can also join business-related extracurricular activities, like clubs emphasizing technology, finance, and economics.
Find a Mentor
Do you know any successful business professionals who you admire? Talk to them about your interest in business and ask if they would be willing to mentor you along the way.
Having a mentor is one of the best ways to gain knowledge, insight, and lessons from the business world. Your mentor should also be a supportive and neutral person you can turn to for advice when you need it.
Learn Through Internships or Summer Enrichment Programs
Real-world experience is the most valuable teacher for future business professionals. Seek an internship and/or participate in a summer enrichment program.
At an internship, you’ll get an inside look at how a business operates. You’ll network with people in the field, witness day-to-day job tasks, and even complete some entry-level work in the field. Don’t want to take on too much extra work while you’re in school? Don’t worry — many internships are available over the summer.
Another option is to attend a business or entrepreneurship summer program. In most of these programs, you’ll participate in simulations that allow you to experience what it’s like to manage and build a company. You’ll tackle hands-on problems and listen to presentations from distinguished business professionals.
Be open to opportunities to learn and experience the field of business firsthand. Real-world experiences give you the chance to see if you truly want to pursue business, and they also help you develop vital skills and knowledge.
Build Leadership Experience
Leadership is one of the most important qualities for business majors and business professionals. As you participate in extracurricular activities, try to take on a leadership role within your organization(s). You can also captain a sports team or participate in student government.
Leadership roles can be formal or informal. If you’re not actually a club officer, what else can you do to take charge and contribute? Share your ideas, lead a committee, run an event, or come up with new and exciting initiatives for your club.
If taking on a leadership role is scary for you, that’s an even better reason to start now. Business school and your future career will require you to lead with confidence. Conquering that fear now will make you a much more effective leader in the future.
Talk to People
Similarly, it’s important to talk to people, especially if doing so makes you nervous. Communication is another vital skill for business professionals, along with the ability to manage conflicts, negotiate, and make sales.
Furthermore, it will enhance all of the aforementioned skills, because each requires an understanding of people. It’s important to not only speak well, but also listen well. The more you talk to others, the more you’ll hone your communication skills and enhance your business savvy.
Make a habit of talking to people you haven’t talked to before. Join a speech club or a debate club to get over any anxiety about speaking in public. When it comes to the clubs or organizations you’re already in, challenge yourself to volunteer to lead a meeting or give a presentation about something you’re working on. If you’re seeking a part-time job, look for something that will involve interacting with people, or volunteer in such a way that requires you to work with others and interact with the public.
Consciously make an effort to develop your communication skills now, and your future self will certainly thank you.
Do Your Research
Start looking into business schools now. Read about what business school entails, the requirements for applicants, the benefits of attending these schools, and so on.
The more you know, the better you can direct your path to help you meet your goals. When you get to college, think about what classes you should take, what opportunities you should pursue, and what activities you should participate in to best prepare you for acceptance to business school.
You don’t have to have it all figured out yet. But if you’re sure about business school, remain focused on your goal and consistently make decisions that will help you get there.
Final Thoughts: How to Prepare for Business School While You’re Still in High School
A successful career in business requires a diverse skill set, ranging from mathematics and communication to leadership and creative problem-solving. That means business schools look for a wide range of skills, and it’s helpful to start developing them now.
Look for any opportunity to enhance your business-related abilities. Take relevant classes, participate in business clubs, gain real-world experience, and find a mentor to help guide you. Leadership and communication are two skills you must work on now, especially if that makes you nervous.
Finally, research business schools to make sure that you’re informed. The more you know, the more certain you can be that you’re taking the right steps toward your goal.
By preparing for business school now, you’ll give yourself a significant competitive advantage in the future.
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