Getting Ready for Fall
With almost all Round 3 applications submitted, it is that time of the year when I revel in the success of my students who so enthusiastically shared with me the news of their success. Also, it’s time to begin preparing myself for the next application season. As I take this year’s case studies with me into the next application season and build on those, I would also like for you to gear up for the Fall.
We all know that MBA application process is a time -consuming and challenging journey. If you are planning to apply in Round 1, NOW is the time to begin this journey. By planning ahead and starting early, you can make this process not only rewarding but enjoyable as well. You will thank yourself later for starting early.
Here is the step- by- step plan you can follow before the schools begin releasing their questions in June/July.
1. Conquer the GMAT:
First and foremost, get this biggest hurdle in your journey out of your way. GMAT is the biggest parameter you will need for making a list of your target schools. Most of you must already be preparing for it, and this sure will make your life easier later. For example, if you take your GMAT now, and do not get your desired score, you still have time to retake it before you begin focusing on other parts of the application package (school selection, resume, essays, and recommendation letters). Tackling both GMAT preparation and essays, recommendation letters, resumes with deadlines drawing close, and that too with the work pressure hanging like Damocles sword on your head, will put you under tremendous pressure, making it extremely challenging for you to produce quality work. Currently, I am working with a candidate who is simultaneously working on essays as well GMAT prep, along with his professional commitments. Obviously, he is not able to give his hundred percent to essays and requires frequent ‘wake-up calls’ from me for emailing me updated drafts of his essays. By planning ahead and allowing yourself sufficient time, you can avoid this unnecessary stress.
2. Begin Your School Selection Process:
You have got the GMAT out of your way by earning your desired score. Now begin researching your target schools. With proper planning, research and initiative, you can definitely pick out schools that will align with your credentials and aspirations. For school selection, you will have to consider many factors e.g. geographical location, loans, scholarships, key projects/courses, employment reports, and companies that are regular recruiters over the years. You should keep in mind the following criteria during your school selection process.
I am sure all this home work will prepare you well and give you enough confidence to finalize your list of 6-7 target schools.
3. Build Your Resume:
Now that you are ready with your list of target schools, it’s time to work on constructing your résumé. MBA résumé is very different from a job résumé, so you will need a significant amount of time and effort in building it. MBA résumés are brief and concise stories of your skills, interests, experience and key accomplishments. Here I would like to quote Ross Admission Director Soojin Kwon, “For me, the résumé is just as important as your essays. Think of it as a trailer of the movie about you.” By making an engaging trailer ( résumé ), you are building Ad Com’s interest in your movie ( essays and recommendation letters).
4. Reach out to recommenders:
It’s also time to approach your recommenders. If you are applying to many schools, your recommenders will need time to work on those recommendation letters. They are busy people, so you may want to apprise them of this favor you would expect from them in the near future. I would encourage you to request a meeting with each of them to discuss the key themes you would like to showcase in your application. Also, your recommenders need to understand that they will not be using the single template for multiple schools because schools have their own set of questions that they expect the recommenders to answer with specific examples from the applicants’ work life.
5. Brainstorm stories for Essays:
After having accomplished all this, you may be wondering “My target schools have still not released essay questions. What do I do now?” Well, before B-school roll out their essay questions, you may begin brainstorming your ideas/stories for essays. Even though B-schools change their essay topics from one year to another, there are going to be concepts that are the same among business schools. For instance, all schools will expect you to write your goals essay, so take your time to identify your short term and long term goals. Make sure your goals are realistic as well as ambitious. Also, start thinking of your greatest leadership experiences, accomplishments, your background, life experiences, your greatest strengths (and weaknesses, too) and how these will help you add value to your target school.
Some of the most common themes you can organize your thoughts on are:
By establishing your stories in advance, you will already have some raw material in hand which you can develop, edit and tailor to individual essays for specific programs. When the candidates sign up for my services in the summer, I require them to fill out a questionnaire of 25 questions pertaining to their goals, accomplishments, background , cultural experiences, strengths and weaknesses etc., so when the essays come out, we are able to use most of this material for specific essays for their target schools.
Thus, by planning ahead, you can make your MBA application process enjoyable and productive. Of course, you can teak the above plan as per your individual needs, circumstances, and preferences; however, the key is to strategize and plan ahead.
Good luck J