Roughly two months to go until the deadlines of early January – the deadlines you don’t want to miss if you can help it. So what should you be doing now?
Hopefully you have already taken your GMAT, researched the schools thoroughly, and jotted down notes about possible essay topics. Now is the time to turn your attention to the essays and the rest of the application.
“Now?” you ask.
Yes now. Not in a month. Not in two weeks. Now you have the time to methodically and thoroughly work on 3-5 applications and submit them for those January deadlines.
Do the math. There are roughly eight weeks left until the next wave of deadlines. If you want to prepare 4 applications, spend 3 weeks (after work hours) on the first application, and 1.5 weeks on each of the other 3, that’s a total of 7.5 weeks. Needless to say, December tends to be a busy month. You really need to get started.
Can you spend less time? Sure, and some who spend less time are even accepted, but many who rush come back to us when they reapply saying they rushed their essays and are now doing Take 2.
How should you proceed?
- Create a schedule. Allow time for drafting, writing, and editing each essay. Recognize that each step takes time, lots of time. The key is to start and maintain your forward momentum.
- Work on one application at a time. Approach each application separately; do not write all your goals essays and then all your achievement essays and then all your team work essays. That “method” is a recipe for rejection. You need to write Harvard’s application and convey your story as it relates to Harvard. Write Stanford’s essays and tell your story as it relates to Stanford, and the same with Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, and MIT respectively. In fact, apply to any and all b-school programs one application at a time.
- Determine for each school which experiences best answer each question and complement the other essays and rest of the application. You may find that you can use the same experience to answer a failure question for one school and the achievement-you’re-most-proud-of question for another school.
- Do NOT submit #1 when you “finish” it; put it away. As you proceed, you may discover that certain points are clearer in Application #3 than in Application #1. That’s OK. A week before it is due, review Application #1. Is it as sharp as you want it to be? Has the writing process and the toil on subsequent applications clarified certain points that you can now hone in Application #1? Because of your timely start and steady effort, you now have the time to refine those originally fuzzy points.
For more essay writing tips, please see Maxx Duffy’s and my recent ebook, MBA BlastOff: 45 Terrific Tips to Launch Your MBA Application to Acceptance .
Accepted.com has two specials in November to further motivate you to get started: