Okay, that title may be a bit strong, but many top business schools’ Round 2 admissions deadlines are just five or six weeks away. This time of year, many applicants find themselves way behind. If that sounds like you, don’t worry — there’s still plenty of time to maximize your chances of admissions success.
For applicants who still have lots of work remaining before their applications are done, following this template will ensure that they spend their time where it can help them the most:
- Get the GMAT out of the way. There’s a good chance that you’re already done with the GMAT, but if you still haven’t taken it, or you want to take it again to try to boost your score, we recommend getting the test out of the way as soon as possible. This allows you to put the test out of your mind and focus on all of the other important parts of your application. You don’t want to end up cramming for the GMAT, hounding your recommendation writers, and trying to finish your essays all at the same time. Since the GMAT is a single, concrete step in your application process, we recommend getting it out of the way and then focusing on the more fluid parts of of the process.
- Start working with your recommendation writers now. There’s probably no part of the MBA admissions process that applicants underestimate (in terms of time and involvement) than letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation are inherently risky since you’re putting your fate in someone else’s hands. Even the best-intentioned recommendation writer will need lots of time and preparation to write a great recommendation for you. Start early, give your recommenders specific examples of your past achievements, and stay in close touch with them!
- Step away from your essays before editing them. One of the best things you can do with your admissions essays is to step away from them for at least a couple of days, before you get back to editing them. Why? Because when you edit a passage in the same moment that you wrote it, you will tend to read what you thought you wrote, not what you actually wrote. Step away from your essays and look at them with a fresh pair of eyes, and you will not only catch typos, but you will also spot inconsistencies, awkward transitions, or even the fact that you failed to answer the question asked! An MBA admissions expert can also provide you with a valuable second pair of eyes, but this first round of feedback on your own works best when your eyes (and your brain) get a break.
- Focus on a handful of schools.If you’re just getting started now, odds are that you wno’t be able to create half a dozen strong applications in time for most Round 2 deadlines. There is no hard limit to how many schools you should apply to, but the reality is that creating half a dozen applications from scratch in less than six weeks is normally not a recipe for success. Be smart about how thinly you spread your efforts — applying to four or five schools is possible, but beyond that you risk creating sub-par applications. Only apply to an ultra-competitive MBA program if you’re putting your best foot forward — doing anything less is just asking for a rejection letter.
In short, there’s a lot that you can do in the next five weeks, but you need to be smart about what you do, and when you do it. For up-to-the minute news and advice about the MBA admissions process, be sure to follow us on Twitter!