Here are five things that you should be doing right now if you’re applying to business school this year:
1. Get your testing under control.
GMAT and GRE scores continue to rise. Although both are absolutely coachable exams, it may take longer than you think to reach your goals. Furthermore, it’s difficult to make strategic decisions about school lists, additional coursework and recommendations without a viable test score. You might also want to switch exams (more about this next week), which requires time. In my experience, the most common reason for missing the early deadlines is an inadequate test score – don’t let a low score push you into the January round.
2. Clarify your professional goals.
Let’s face it, many people who are applying to business school don’t really know what they want to do afterwards. Nevertheless, in order to get in you need to articulate and sell cogent short and long-term goals. This often requires thought, research and practice. Also, your goals are another foundational element that needs to be solid before you can shape your school list, choose recommenders and create a calendar.
3. Check out schools.
Applying to business school is a process, and creating the right school list is an evolutionary part of the process. Right now, sign up for email notifications from a wide variety of schools. You will be notified about events in your area (which you should go to) and can also learn more about each school through their marketing blasts. You should also consider visiting campuses this Spring, while classes are still in session, so that you can make informed decisions about where to apply in the Fall.
4. Mitigate academic and extracurricular issues.
Need to take extra classes to shore up your transcript? Haven’t had any community involvement since 5th grade? Work on those issues now.
5. Create a calendar and a budget.
There are so many advantages to applying in the early rounds, and some of the first deadlines are only five months away. Map out your time between now and then, and be sure to get your finances in order.
Finally, if you are going to work with a consultant, this is the perfect time to start collaborating. With the right plan and guidance, you can maximize your time and submit outstanding applications.
Karen Marks has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia, MIT, Duke, Georgetown, Northwestern, Booth, NYU, Ross, UVA and more. Clients have been awarded more than $10.2 million in scholarships, and more than 95% have gotten into at least one of their top-choice schools.