With summer just coming to an end and round two deadlines for most schools that fall in January, it is easy to put your MBA applications on the back burner. Don’t make this mistake! Whether you aren’t quite ready for round one (unsure if your applications are ready to go? Check out my recent blog) or have always been in the round two camp, it is time to get started NOW!
Here are 5 steps you should be taking today!
1) Think about your personal story
My candidates often need the most help with crafting a winning personal story. This is the most important part of the application and it can also be the hardest. I advise my candidates to start this process months, if not years, in advance! The good news? Everyone has a personal story.
So, what should you include in your personal story? This will differ for every candidate but across the board I 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 single idea connects these all together. This is the hard part, so give it time.
No candidate is ever perfect, instead, we chart the best course we can with the hand we were dealt and the best essays show this.
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. Admissions directors want to know how you will make the business world better when you leave their campuses and they want to know 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 in a higher role, it is important to connect your past to your future.
Include career goals that are focused and attainable. Your career essay should generally include both a short-term and long-term goal, though of course pay attention to the specific question wording. These goals should be specific. 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.
3) Finalize your school choice and schedule campus visits, if you haven’t already
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.
Next, schedule campus visits! If it is realistic based on your location and work schedule, you should try to visit the campus before applying. There is no better way to get to know a school and the admissions committee wants to see you are truly interested. Whether you visit or not, 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.
4) Select and prepare your recommenders
Who you select to write your letters of recommendation is a key decision in the application process. It can be tempting to select the person with the most prestigious resume or the person easiest to discuss your business school plans with. I encourage 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.
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. See our tips on arming your recommenders to write the best letters possible.
5) START YOUR ESSAYS
Once you have finalized your school list, done some soul searching on your personal story and fine-tuned your career goals. START DRAFTING. All of the essay questions are out and the best essays take time so why wait? Better, by getting your essays done now you will be free to enjoy the holiday season and new year!
Personal MBA Coach is here to help! We are a boutique admissions consulting firm helping clients since 2008 with a 96% success rate! Whether it is GMAT/GRE tutoring, school selection, letters of recommendation planning or essay development, we can help you achieve your career goals! Call today: +1 617-645-2424 or email for a consultation with founder Scott Edinburgh.