While the 2016-2017 admissions season is almost over, many applicants, aiming for the upcoming autumn rounds, have already started rigorous preparations. Although this is surely a great strategy, compared with filling in your application form an hour before the deadline, you should still plan the process wisely.
First and foremost, be focused. Do not try to prepare for another GMAT test and draft the Stanford’s “What matters most to you and why?” essay simultaneously – this will lead to the lack of in-depth self-reflection, required by schools, and certainly affect your score. Most importantly, given your day-to-day obligations at work, such combination may lead to burn-out and even kill your motivation.
If you have reached your target GMAT score, revise your school choices. Do not forget about “safety” options, since even a brilliant profile and 750+ points never guarantee a place at Harvard or Wharton. Nevertheless, keep in mind that safety schools are not simply random ones from the top-30 – you should be ready to accept their offer if not being admitted to your top choices; otherwise, these applications will be a waste of time and money.
Next, scrutinize schools’ websites, student blogs, and social network pages. Build connections with current students and alumni, especially with those possessing a similar profile, or those, who achieved a Post-MBA position that resonates with your short-term goal. Indeed, MBA is not just a set of courses and workshops – these are communities that make each school’s experience different. Thanks to the rapid technology development, you can explore these communities right now and determine whether you are the right fit.
Parallel to getting to know your schools better, you can learn more about yourself and define the key components of your personal brand, including your strengths and unique experiences. Make a list of your achievements, focusing on the last 2-3 years and considering both professional and out-of-work activities. Recollect your leadership experiences and analyze why they were successful or not. If you are struggling to evaluate yourself objectively, ask your supervisor, colleagues, and friends for their opinion so that you will have a comprehensive picture.
Thoughtful brainstorming will produce plenty of material for your application package. Include the most significant measurable achievements to your CV and polish it with your social activities, professional development courses, and hobbies. Craft your story and formulate your mission – this would be the core of application essays. Do not forget about a well-researched career plan, including a plan B, as it will build a basis for your motivation. This is pretty simple: there is a gap between the current you and your career goals, which school can fill in with its academic and professional resources.
A few months before the deadline, you can already choose and contact your recommenders. Receiving their approval and helping them to remember and describe illustrious examples of your strengths is only one part of the job. You should give clear instructions about the process, especially if you are applying to several schools – many recommenders cannot even imagine that they will have to follow five separate links and spend a few hours on doing you a favor. To be honest, some applicants do not know about it either, so we are happy to inform you in this case.
When it comes to the essays, make sure that your schools have announced their topics for the new season. Some of them, like Stanford, already did that, keeping the essay question unchanged, others came up with a completely new format, like Ross, and the rest are only on the way. This is the reason why you should not start preparing your drafts right now: it can be confusing if you will have to make everything over.
These were only the basic tips to plan your application process this year. We will elaborate on particular package components in the following posts, or you can contact MBA Strategy and learn them right now. Stay tuned!
By Polina Artemenko, MBA Strategy Application Consultant