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Sharing Tips on Motivating & Setting Deadlines/Goals?

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Joined: 23 Oct 2009
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Sharing Tips on Motivating & Setting Deadlines/Goals? [#permalink] New post 24 Nov 2009, 13:00
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Hi all,

I just joined a few weeks ago and am finding this forum incredibly useful. With one November deadline R1 app down (Stern), I'm in the midst of the final countdown (just a little over a month and a half) to finish 3 intense applications--Wharton, HBS & Columbia. I'm currently focusing on one application at a time, setting certain weeks or groups of days to work on a specific school. I've heard a lot of advice to stay focused on one application at a time so you make sure your story is consistent. But coming home from work everyday and immediately focusing on essays is exhausting and sometimes I just stare at my computer and can't get focused.

Anyone have any advice for setting reasonable personal deadlines, prioritizing, and keeping up the motivation? I tend to work best under pressure, but I know from my experience with the Stern application that I'm glad I left a few days before my own personal deadline for submission (a few days before the actual deadline) to allow for last minute tweaks/proofreading/gut checks.

I hope this will be helpful to other people looking to get through the R2 push.
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Joined: 04 Nov 2009
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Re: Sharing Tips on Motivating & Setting Deadlines/Goals? [#permalink] New post 24 Nov 2009, 13:19
LB20 wrote:
Hi all,

I just joined a few weeks ago and am finding this forum incredibly useful. With one November deadline R1 app down (Stern), I'm in the midst of the final countdown (just a little over a month and a half) to finish 3 intense applications--Wharton, HBS & Columbia. I'm currently focusing on one application at a time, setting certain weeks or groups of days to work on a specific school. I've heard a lot of advice to stay focused on one application at a time so you make sure your story is consistent. But coming home from work everyday and immediately focusing on essays is exhausting and sometimes I just stare at my computer and can't get focused.

Anyone have any advice for setting reasonable personal deadlines, prioritizing, and keeping up the motivation? I tend to work best under pressure, but I know from my experience with the Stern application that I'm glad I left a few days before my own personal deadline for submission (a few days before the actual deadline) to allow for last minute tweaks/proofreading/gut checks.

I hope this will be helpful to other people looking to get through the R2 push.



There is no set rule that says you have to write essays when you get home from work. :) If you find yourself too tired at night, instead try going to sleep earlier than you normally would and then waking up early in the morning to focus on your apps. I have found that 2 hours before work provides an excellent uninterrupted time to write, and my brain is fresh as I have just slept. Also, try to break it up by writing an hour at lunch time. If you want to stay disciplined on your goals, you need to set a specific schedule and stick to it – much like studying for the GMAT. It is much easier to be disciplined if you make it routine.
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Re: Sharing Tips on Motivating & Setting Deadlines/Goals? [#permalink] New post 24 Nov 2009, 15:56
LB20 wrote:
...3 intense applications--Wharton, HBS & Columbia. I'm currently focusing on one application at a time.... I've heard a lot of advice to stay focused on one application at a time so you make sure your story is consistent. But coming home from work everyday and immediately focusing on essays is exhausting and sometimes I just stare at my computer and can't get focused.

Anyone have any advice for setting reasonable personal deadlines, prioritizing, and keeping up the motivation? I tend to work best under pressure, but I know from my experience with the Stern application that I'm glad I left a few days before my own personal deadline for submission (a few days before the actual deadline) to allow for last minute tweaks/proofreading/gut checks.

I hope this will be helpful to other people looking to get through the R2 push.


Heya. I did 6 R1 apps all at approximately the same time (didn't submit Wharton) to top tier schools. I did blog a bit about it, but my quick takes since I worked on apps to two of those schools:

#1) FIRST THING: Check the data entry portion on each school. HBS gives you very little room to talk, while Wharton gives you tons. I did not apply to Columbia. There is a large amount of flexibility in data entry, and you have an opportunity to capitalize on it. Before even starting your essays, understand what the rest of the app allows you to say. By the end of your essay editing you should be a master of succinct prose, so of all the themes you have figure out which can fit into the Data Entry portion.

#2) Figure out a theme for "why" each school. HBS was easy for me (has courses/professors in my area of interest along with, well, being HBS) while Wharton I never submitted ... frankly, the program doesn't cover my areas of interest. This should be what makes you excited about the school. If you can think of 3-4 things that really excite you about a school, it's a little easier to sit down and work ;)

#3) Compare all your essay questions for overlaps and decide if they're appropriate. I had one experience that applied equally well to HBS and Wharton's failure/mistake question, and my 'primary' story applies to just about any 'success' question. You should have a list of experiences, sometimes more than one, that fit each question - if nothing else just jot them down.

#4) At this point, I would "start" one school. The first school I started was Harvard, in part because the first question (3 most substantial accomp) were the core stories of a half-dozen essays for other schools. Essays are somewhat reusable - definitely not in the copy/paste sense, but I used maybe 10? stories between 30ish essays (inc. optionals).

#5) In all seriousness, even if you're only 1/3 done with your essays, upload some dummy essays and "check application" then download the PDF. I found reviewing the PDF of each school's app very handy - I'd rephrase data entry to better fit the space, look at the flow of my essays, etc. Make sure you review each school's posting guidelines (Stanford requires double spaced, HBS requires question at top, Sloan requires 1 page, etc.)

#6) Try to enjoy it. I did pretty well coming home and going right to work, but I was very focused on it at the time. I did occasionally need a day or afternoon off, so I padded my timelines pretty well (also expecting, rightfully, work to explode at times and consume me). If you can find a partner in crime (I had an 'MBA wingman' that was up till 3AM on odd weeknights with me working on his own essays, as well as some other MBA friends) it becomes much easier.


The whole experience, while grueling, I found pretty fun. I am an 'old' 'low gpa' candidate, so I'm hardly confident about my chances, but working through the apps helped a lot with future goals and one way or another I can't wait to hear the results so I can pursue the opportunities I've put on hold for the process ;)

Best of luck.
Re: Sharing Tips on Motivating & Setting Deadlines/Goals?   [#permalink] 24 Nov 2009, 15:56
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