Whether you are not quite ready for round 1 deadlines or have always been a round 2 applicant, it is time to focus on your business school applications now that summer is behind us. While MBA round 2 deadlines may seem far off, Personal MBA Coach advises that all round 2 applicants get started today.
Below are 5 steps you should begin taking now (even before you begin drafting your application essays).
1) Narrow down your school list and schedule campus visits if possible
Research the programs that best fit with your long-term goals and ideal learning environments. Pay careful attention to each school’s culture and the industries where its graduates are most often placed. Make sure that you have some “reach” schools, some “more likely” schools and some “safer” schools, especially if you want to ensure you get in this time around. Personal MBA Coach’s average candidate applies to 5 to 8 schools, and it is important that you have a well-rounded list.
Next, if it is realistic based on your location and work schedule, you should try to visit the campus before applying.
If an in-person visit is not practical for you, consider attending virtual tours and events. Whether or not you are able to visit, look for current students or alumni in your immediate or extended networks and take the time to talk to them now! Learn about their experiences, what sets their programs apart, etc. These days, there are many virtual opportunities to connect with students and alumni as well.
2) Fine-tune and articulate your career goals
Most business school applications will ask you to think about your career goals. This is a very important question, and you should give it serious thought before MBA round 2 deadlines begin to approach. Admissions directors want to know how you will make the business world better when you leave their campuses and what your unique mark will be. The best career essay will do two things:
- Connect your past career to your future goals. Whether you plan to take your career in a completely different direction, make a small career pivot or return to the same company post-MBA, it is important to connect your past to your future.
- Include career goals that are focused and attainable. Your career essay should be specific and generally include both a short-term and long-term goal (though of course pay attention to each specific question’s wording).
No one is going to hold you to what you put in your essay, but it is important to think through and convey your plan. Your goals should also be attainable. Do not expect to become the CMO one year after business school. Look at sample job postings in your target companies and the required experience to determine what might be feasible for you.
Need help articulating your goals? Visit our blog on MBA goals for additional guidance!
3) Think about your personal story
We devote the first part of each engagement with candidates to crafting a winning personal story. This is the most important part of the MBA application, and it can also be the hardest. We advise our candidates to start this process months, if not years, in advance! The good news is that everyone has a personal story.
So, what should you include in your personal story? This will differ for every candidate but across the board we can tell you, not everything! No one wants to read 1,000+ words with a chronological flow of your life. Instead, you must be focused, logical and unique.
This is also not the time to tell the admissions committee what you think they want to hear. Instead, think about what is most important to you, what drove your career and personal decisions and what connects these all together.
No candidate is perfect; instead, we chart the best course we can with the hand we were dealt, and the best essays show this. To find out how to craft a compelling personal story, check out this blog.
4) Select and prepare your recommenders
Selecting the right recommenders is a very important part of the application process. It can be tempting to select the person with the most prestigious resume or the easiest person to discuss your business school plans with. Personal MBA Coach encourages you instead to carefully weigh your options and choose recommenders who know you best, can write great letters and can compare you to other applicants (more on this here).
Once you have selected the right person, you also have to prepare them carefully. We often hear of candidates who ask someone to write the letter, ensure it gets submitted and call it a day. This can be a big mistake! Your role in the LOR process should be much more involved than this, so do not plan on leaving LOR preparation until right before MBA round 2 deadlines. Read our tips on preparing your recommenders to learn more.
5) Customize your MBA resume
A business school resume differs from a professional one. These resumes accomplish two different goals. For a professional resume, you want to show potential employers that you have the specific skills and experiences they are looking for. You are selling your ability to do the job.
For an MBA resume, on the other hand, you want to show how you have been successful and have demonstrated leadership. You are selling your future potential. Find out how to craft a compelling MBA resume here.