Stay Agile and Adaptable in the MBA Admissions Game

In life, nothing ever goes as planned. Maybe you don’t end up marrying your high school sweetheart. Or the dream job that you land turns out to be a nightmare. Or maybe the stock market takes a nose dive right before you’re getting ready to withdraw funds for a down payment on a new home. In every case, you make adjustments, and life goes on.

In business school admissions, the same kinds of things can happen. Your plans will almost certainly change between the very start of the process and when you click “Submit” on your last business school application. Maybe you didn’t leave yourself enough time for the GMAT, and on September 24 you got a 650, and the HBS Round 1 deadline was only a week away. Or, after five weeks of coaching one of your recommendation writers, it started to become apparent that you weren’t going to get a recommendation (or at least a good one) from him in time. Or, maybe you learned that you were just weeks away from receiving a large promotion, potentially making your candidacy stronger after the promotion, and maybe even giving you second thoughts about applying now and walking away from such a great opportunity.

In every case, you have to step back and plan again. Didn’t get the GMAT score that you wanted? Then you consider taking the GMAT again, knowing that you’re better off applying with a 700 in Round 2 than a 650 in Round 1. Or you hurry up and enlist the help of your “Plan B” recommendation writer, who ends up writing a better recommendation for you than anyone else does. Or you strategically wait a few weeks and let that promotion come through, so that you can show the big step up in job title (and salary) on your application data sheets.

In every case, things didn’t turn out the way you expected, and you smartly took a step back and asked, “What should I do differently to compensate for (or take advantage) of this new situation?” That ability to assimilate and act on new information not only makes for a great fantasy football manager, but it also happens to make for a great business manager, which is what MBA admissions officers are looking for to begin with.

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