It is hard to believe that it is mid-April! This means that the first Round 1 deadline is likely less than five months away.
While the 2023-2024 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 early decision applications in about two months.
Regardless of whether you followed our MBA Planning Guide, it is time to shift 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 campus events
Whether in person or virtual, campus visits are a great way to get a sense of life on campus. Nearly all schools are open to schedule campus visits. Here are just a few options to visit campuses over the next months:
- Harvard Business School MBA Information Session & Campus Tour –May 5, May 12, May 19
- Stanford GSB On Campus Tour with an Admissions Officer – April 17
- Columbia Business School MBA Campus Visit – April 27, May 8, May 11
- Yale SOM In-Person Campus Visits – April 20, April 24, May 4
- Chicago Booth Full-time MBA Program In-Person Campus Visits – April 20, April 24, April 27
2) Develop or solidify your GMAT, GRE or EA study plan
Many of you may be hard at work studying, or you 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!
Wondering if you can waive the test requirement? Watch this quick tips video with Personal MBA Coach Founder Scott Edinburgh to decide:
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. In fact, developing a compelling short-term and long-term goal statement is one of the first things Personal MBA Coach works on with our comprehensive clients.
Need some help getting started? Check out Personal MBA Coach’s quick tips video with advice on how to think about your career goals.
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. Given the softer job market and recent layoffs, we expect the 2023-2024 MBA application cycle will be more challenging. Therefore, Personal MBA Coach recommends you develop a well-rounded school 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 April, 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. Need help thinking through your personal story? Check out this blog.
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. For more context, watch our Letter of Recommendation Tips video:
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.
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!
Looking for comprehensive MBA application assistance? Personal MBA Coach is here to help with all aspects of the MBA application process, including developing your own personal application timeline, early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing, mock interviews and more. Schedule a consultation today and find out why Personal MBA Coach is consistently top-ranked by multiple leading sources.