Scott Edinburgh
April 7, 2021

Personal MBA Coach’s 5 Month MBA Application Timeline

April is upon us! This means that the first Round 1 deadline is likely just five months away.

While the 2021-2022 MBA application deadlines and questions have not yet been announced (stay tuned for more details on this), the first Round 1 application deadline from this past year was in early September. If you are applying to Columbia Business School, they will likely start accepting applications in about two months.

While some of last year’s deadlines were pushed back due to coronavirus, we do not expect as many (if any) delays this year. Regardless of whether you followed our MBA Planning Guide, it is time to kick your MBA application efforts into high gear.

To help you make the most of your time and avoid last-minute cramming (which is never ideal for anyone), Personal MBA Coach has put together our 5-month MBA application timeline.

Months 1 and 2: April and May

1) Look for virtual campus events

While on campus visits are not yet an option, many schools continue to offer virtual campus visits, student chats and more to give students a sense of life on campus. Here are just a few upcoming over the next month:

2) Develop or solidify your GMAT, GRE or EA study plan

Many of you may be hard at work studying or have already taken one or two exams. If not, now is a great time to sign up with one of Personal MBA Coach’s tutors. Our tutoring slots often fill up later in the summer. Even if you have a strong score, be sure that you are maximizing your potential!

3) Customize your MBA resume

Your MBA resume should differ from your professional one. While you may need to tweak your resume later this summer, we advise our clients to get most of their resume development work out of the way before schools release their essay questions.

4) Fine-tune your career goals

Reflecting upon and articulating your career goals now will save time when you start to develop your essays. At Personal MBA Coach, we work closely with our comprehensive clients to help them develop compelling goals statements.

5) Narrow your target school lists

Your final list may change (particularly if your GMAT/GRE/EA score is not what you expected), but it is best to have an initial idea of your school list no later than May. We expect another challenging year so be sure to develop a well-rounded list that includes some “reach” schools and some safer schools, particularly if this coming cycle is a make-or-break year for you.

6) Brainstorm essay topics and begin drafting essays

For some schools, the MBA essay questions are not likely to change from year to year. For these programs, you can begin brainstorming, outlining and drafting. For other schools, you can look at past questions to get an idea of potential focus areas for each school on your list. By May, we are working on essay editing with many of our clients.

7) Prepare your personal story

Think through the choices you have made in your life, what drove those choices and what makes you unique. You want to keep this story in mind as you outline your essays.

8) Begin to identify potential recommenders

Think about who can write the most effective letters of recommendation (not just who is the most impressive on paper). Start putting out feelers now to see who is willing to take the time to write a great MBA letter of recommendation.

Month 3: June

1) Draft your essays

Essay development should get the bulk of your attention this month.

2) Finalize and prepare your recommenders

Nail down your recommenders and schedule time to adequately prepare them to ensure your letters of recommendation shine.

3) Take the GMAT/GRE/EA

If you have not already done so, aim to complete your testing by mid-summer. This will give you time to retake the test if needed and not be too rushed. Remember, online tests are viable options.

4) Network with students and alumni

Connect with current students and alumni in your network to learn more about their MBA programs. Doing so not only will help you confirm your interest, but also will give you strong material for your applications. Some schools specifically ask whom you talked to, so do not forget this key step.

Month 4: July

1) Edit, edit, edit

Aim to finish your MBA essays in July. Personal MBA Coach advises our clients to complete their essays at least 3 to 4 weeks before deadlines. Last-minute changes are rarely for the better and you will need the time in August to focus on other application elements.

2) Revisit school lists as needed

Based on your test scores, you may want to critically evaluate and expand your school list. Our average candidate applies to 5 to 7 schools.

Month 5: August

1) Ensure LORs are ready to go

Follow up with your recommenders and make sure they are on track and know your deadlines. Ask your recommenders if they need any additional information from you.

2) Work on short answer questions and video essays

Allocate enough time for short answer questions and other application extras. These sections require a lot of detail and often take longer than you might think. They are crucial components to your application.

3) Proofread, proofread, proofread

ALWAYS get someone unfamiliar with your applications to do a thorough review.

4) Research options for visiting campus, if it is safe to do so

While we do not know whether traveling will be more common by late summer, we certainly hope so! By getting a jump-start on your other application components, you will free yourself up to visit schools later on should this opportunity become available.

Keep in mind that while it is optimal to use the full five months (or more) to prepare, we regularly work with clients who start later in the year and craft custom timelines accordingly.

Similarly, many of our clients (especially those applying to an early decision program) are working well ahead of these timelines!

About Personal MBA Coach:

Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2, currently holding the #1 ranking in the US on Poets&Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing and mock interviews. Our team includes a former M7 admissions director and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last year, our clients earned more than $6M in scholarships!

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