• Scott Edinburgh

Personal MBA Coach’s 5 Month MBA Application Plan

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

While the 2020-2021 MBA application deadlines and questions have not yet been announced (stay tuned for more details on this), last year, the first round 1 application deadline was in early September.

If you are applying to Columbia Business School, they will start accepting applications in under two months (ready to apply sooner? Check out details on the extended round 3 and round 4 deadlines here)

While we might see some delays, we do not expect major deadline changes this year.

Regardless of whether you followed our MBA Kick-Start Plan, 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 great for anyone), Personal MBA Coach has put together this 5-month plan.

Month 1/2: April/May

1. Look for virtual campus events: While visiting campuses this spring is not an option, many schools are offering online webinars and other events to give students a sense of life on campus.

2. Develop or solidify your GMAT/GRE preparation plan: Many of you may be well underway here (or even have already completed your testing). If not, this 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.

3. Customize your resume for your MBA applications: 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 essay questions are released.

4. Fine-tune your career goals: Putting pencil to paper (so to speak) on your career goals now will save you time while developing your essays. We are working closely with our comprehensive clients on how to develop compelling goals statements.

5. Narrow down your school lists (if you have not already). Your final list may change (particularly if your GMAT/GRE score is not as you expected), but it is ideal to have an initial idea of your school list by May.

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

7. Prepare your personal story. Think through the choices you have made in your life, what drove those choices and what makes you unique. Keep this story in mind as you outline your essays.

8. Begin to identify potential recommenders. Think about who will write the best letters (not just who is the most impressive on paper!) and begin putting out feelers.

Month 3: June

1. Draft your essays. Essay development should be getting the bulk of your attention this month.

2. Finalize and prepare your recommenders. Nail down your recommenders and schedule time to prepare them appropriately.

3. Take the GMAT/GRE. If you have not already done so, try to get your testing completed by mid-summer. (Remember, online tests can be viable options.) This will give you time to retake the test and not be too rushed.

4. Network (remotely) with current/former students. Speak with current students and alumni in your network to learn more about their programs. This will not only help you to confirm your interest, but it will also give you strong material for your applications. Some schools specifically ask who you talked to, so do not forget this step.

Month 4: July

1. Edit, edit, edit. Aim to finish your essays in July. We advise our clients to lock their essays at least 3-4 weeks in advance of 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 score, you may want to critically evaluate and expand your school list. My average candidate applies to 5+ schools.

Month 5: August

1. Ensure LORs are ready to go. ​Follow up with your recommenders and make sure they are on track. 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. Often these questions take longer than you might think and are an important part of the 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 a safe option by late summer, we certainly hope it will be! By getting a jump start on your other application components while quarantining at home, you will free yourself up to visit schools when health conditions allow.

Keep in mind that while it is great to have 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!

Need help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team.

Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for 13 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!

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