January may seem like worlds away, but if you don’t get crackin’ now, then these next 6-8 weeks will come and go before you can say “MBA 2015.”
Hopefully by this point you’ve already taken your GMAT and decided on the MBA programs you’d like to attend. Now it’s time to turn your attention to the actual applications, with a heavy emphasis on those MBA essays. Yes, now. Assuming you apply to 4-6 programs, that’ll give you about 3 weeks for the first application (which is always the hardest), and then about 1-1.5 weeks for each remaining application, and a couple of weeks for the unexpected things that you can expect will happen between now and January.
It’s you versus the buzzer. Here are four things you can do now to make sure you submit your MBA Round 2 applications on time:
1. Create a detailed schedule. Make a fairly rigid schedule that allows time for drafting, writing, and editing each essay. Each one of these steps requires time, lots of time, so the key is to start early and commit to your schedule. Let your forward momentum propel you to the finish line. (P.S. Your schedule should be rigid, but you should also accept that there are always hiccups along the way; leave room for error, and as I said above, the expected unexpected.)
2. Complete one application before moving to the next. Approaching each application separately will help ensure that each is completed as a cohesive package. Writing all your goals essays and then all your achievement essays and then all your team work essays will simply confuse things and result in you losing focus. Write HBS’ essay first, conveying your unique story as it relates to Harvard. Then do Stanford‘s essays, while focusing on how your story relates to Stanford. Then move on to Wharton, Columbia, MIT, and Kellogg respectively.
3. Determine which experiences best answers each question for each school. Your essays should complement each other and the rest of your application. You won’t want to use the same experience in two of your Haas essays, but you may be able to use an experience highlighted in a short answer from Harvard’s app in one of your Kellogg essays.
4. Do NOT submit your applications right away. This applies to all your MBA applications, but particularly to the first one you complete. Here’s why: As you proceed through subsequent applications, you may discover that certain ideas that you developed in Application #4 help sharpen a point in Application #1. A week before the deadline is a good time to review your first application and clarify any points that have been further developed in later applications. If your original points seem fuzzy, then you’ll have enough time to refine them.