Are you planning on applying to MBA programs in Round 1 this upcoming fall? Have you thought about why you want to get an MBA? Have you taken the GMAT/GRE, investigated schools, or assessed your qualifications? If you haven’t, this article is for you.
Starting the process now will help you avoid the incomplete, unprofessional-looking applications that result from being rushed. Students who procrastinate or simply start thinking about applying late in the cycle are the ones who submit these applications. To avoid joining this unsuccessful group, start your applications early and spend the next eight or nine months perfecting your applications and submitting them by their deadlines.
Applicants who start early do better in the MBA application process and benefit by being admitted to more and “better” schools, are more likely to get scholarships, and are better prepared for their program when they begin.
Follow these four steps to compete with the best-prepared applicants.
Start preparing for the GMAT/GRE.
As soon as you decide that you need an MBA to meet your goals, start preparing for the GMAT/GRE. Don’t put your prep off for later! Your test score is a vital part of your application and you need it to determine which schools to apply to. Selecting schools without this important stat can lead to wasted time, money, and energy.
Early prep – and test taking – gives you the chance to retake the exam in case you do poorly. This can mean that you will have to apply to programs that you really don’t want to attend, but have the score for, or apply to the program you have your heart set on, but probably won’t get in due to your stats. You can avoid this dilemma by taking the test early enough to have the option of a retake.
Be purposeful in deciding where to apply.
Only apply to programs that support your goals and where you are competitive. Understanding the importance of fit is vital when applying to business schools. Some applicants are fixated on having an MBA from a Top X-ranked school, without having a precise goal or reason for getting an MBA. Take the time to do the legwork now. Don’t just look at the superficial when applying; this often leads to rejection, wasted resources, or a disappointing MBA experience. Ultimately, the proper fit, in terms of goals, stats, and other areas should determine where you apply.
Know that you will have to write — and rewrite — your application and essays.
Congratulations if you already know what your goals are, the correct reasons for the programs you’re applying to, and a high enough GMAT/GRE score the first time around! However, this is just the first part of the application process.
Don’t sit on your laurels and wait for the last minute to fill out the rest of your applications and write your essays. Waiting too long to write your essays, short answer questions, and resume, or practicing and filming a video option will mean that you have to rush through these processes. This can only lead to disaster.
Writing gets better with time. Giving yourself time between revisions allows you to look at your essays, short answers, etc. with fresh eyes and lets you see your work more critically and edit it better. This thoughtful process comes across in your writing, as opposed to the sloppy, disjointed writing that comes from rushing.
Recognize that the MBA application process is a holistic one.
Now is the time to commit to work on your application in a purposeful, methodical, and thoughtful manner. Submitting an excellent business school application is more than just checking items off a list.
Make a timeline of all of the pieces of the application puzzle that need to be put together in time to submit your MBA application for Round 1 in the fall. Keep this timeline where you can see it often. Choose specific deadlines for each piece and put them in your calendar. Be sure that you complete each task by the assigned date.
Following your MBA timeline will help you keep up with what needs to be done, so that your application is cohesive, thoughtful, and one that will be completed in plenty of time before the deadline.
Do you need help getting on track to submit your R1 MBA application? Turn to the experts at Accepted to guide you through the MBA admissions process. View Accepted’s MBA Admissions Consulting & Editing Services for more information and to get started.
Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, and Poets&Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise.