Round 1 deadlines are quickly approaching. Whether you are scrambling to ensure your essays and LORs are done in time or have finished your essays with time to spare, it is important to assess the quality and completeness of your applications with a critical eye before you hit submit.
As you give your applications a final review, consider how well they deliver in each of these three key areas. If you have any doubts, you may be better served holding off until round 2 to make sure your application is your best work. In nearly all cases, a stronger application in round 2 will fare better than a rushed attempt in round 1.
Purpose: Why do you want an MBA? Think about the skills you hope to gain in business school and what you hope to achieve post-MBA. It should be clear from your interviews or from reading your essays that you have specific goals and an insight into how an MBA will help your career. A vague purpose, such as “to get promoted,” is not strong enough. Communicate this purpose to your recommenders, so that they can include it in their letters of recommendation.
Story: Your personal and professional backgrounds have shaped you and helped you clarify your goals. Your essays, short answer questions, resume, and LORs should all share common themes of the type of person you are and the motivations that drive you. Is that story consistent and prevalent? In the same way that you shared your goals with your recommenders, take the time to let them get to know you personally so that they understand your background and motivations and can refer to them in the LOR.
Specificity: Your essays and short answers should be tailored to every school that you apply to. Mention classes or professors by name. Discuss aspects and opportunities that are unique to that school. The reader should feel that you wrote that essay especially for that school, not that you wrote a generic essay and merely replaced the name of the program. Likewise, your LORs should be specific and personalized to express the usefulness that you have brought to a previous work experience and how you will provide value to a business school program.
If you are unsure whether your application demonstrates a clear and common purpose and story, ask a friend to read it, preferably someone from outside of your industry. They should be able to put down your application and clearly articulate your goals and motivations. If they cannot, take another look at your application and consider waiting for round 2.
Scott Edinburgh is a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan BS graduate and the founder of Personal MBA Coach. As a boutique MBA admissions consulting and tutoring firm, it has been helping clients for over 10 years with a 96% success rate. Last year Personal MBA Coach helped applicants receive over $4.5M in fellowships. If you would like individual and personal support with any aspect of the MBA application process, find out more about Personal MBA Coach and its 5-star rating.