It’s June, and your plan is to apply to Round 1 deadlines. That’s three months away. What should you be doing now?
1. Hopefully, you have taken the GMAT or GRE already and are happy with your score. One less thing to worry about. If you haven’t, now it’s the time to take it.
2. You have done your research and have a pretty good idea of what schools you will be applying to. Get the final list of schools ready, with their deadlines arranged in chronological order. In that list, you should include your dream school for sure, a couple where your profile fits right in, and at least one ‘safety’, where you are almost sure you can get admitted. This is the time to narrow down your choices. Having this list will help you narrow your research and concentrate on those schools only.
3. Finalize your resume. There’s no need to wait around any longer. Your resume should be good to go now so that you have one less piece of the puzzle to worry about.
4. Fine tune your goals. If your goals are still not quite clear in your mind, this is the time to give them some deep thought and write them down. This is particularly true if you are planning on changing fields. Do your homework now so that you start your applications with a clear idea of what you want to do short and long term.
5. Start choosing your recommenders and track them down. Maybe you haven’t seen one of them in a while, so it’s probably a good idea to contact him/her and re-connect. Taking care of this now will allow you to find alternates if for some reason one of the people you had in mind is unwilling or unable to write a recommendation for you.
6. If you feel you lack community service or extracurricular activities, get on it right away. See my blog about this on Extracurriculars and Community Service.
7. Start working on your essays. If you have completed 1-6 and your target schools have released their application questions, you can start drafting essay responses. If your schools’ questions aren’t out, then just start a file, mind map, or folder where you jot down examples of leadership, top achievements, successes, failures, teamwork, initiative etc. When the questions are available this file will put good stories and examples at your fingertips to anchor your essays. It will also be useful when you want to prepare for interviews.
The coming months will be very stressful for you, no doubt. So start working on these things now to allow time to dig deeper on the essays and the rest of your application materials later. You will find that ninety days go by very quickly, so make sure every day counts.
By Esmeralda Cardenal, previously the Associate Director of Admissions at Yale SOM, Director of MBA Admissions at MSU Broad, and consultant at Cardiff Business School in the UK. She is happy to help you showcase your achievements in your MBA application.