Planning on applying to a top business school Round 1 in the fall of 2013? Follow this timeline to stay focused, get organized, and hit those R1 October deadlines on time (or better yet, in advance). Have a smooth, successful, and essentially stress-free application experience.
- Read this post to get your bearings on what’s going to be a busy and hopefully exciting year.
- Begin studying for the GMAT. Register for a course, or if you are highly disciplined, lay out a study plan for yourself.
- If you don’t have clear post-MBA goals, then now is the time to start thinking about why you want to pursue an MBA. Clarify your post-MBA goals through research, networking, and informational interviews. By March you should have this info down pat.
February – March
- Take the GMAT. The earlier you take the test, the earlier you’ll be able to determine where you should apply. Also, if you don’t do well, you’ll have more time to take a GMAT prep course and retake the exam.
- Assess your qualifications – your GMAT or GRE, GPA, additional academic credentials, work experience, and other skills and achievements – and draft a list of b-schools you plan on applying to.
March – May
- Continue your school research by scouring websites, talking to current students and alumni, attending MBA fairs, and finally, visiting the top-running b-schools on your list. The best time to visit schools is before finals, while classes are still in session.
- Begin thinking about that ever so important “fit” factor – why would you love to attend this particular program and why would this program love to have you?
- Polish your MBA resume. Don’t leave this to the last minute – it’s more important than most MBA applicants realize as for many adcoms it’s the first thing they’ll read and it’s what will (hopefully) convince them that the rest of your application is worth looking at seriously.
June – July
- Finalize your b-school list. By the end of June you should have narrowed your long list of potential schools to a short list of 5-8 programs.
- Download your target schools’ applications and begin filling in the boxes – that’s the easy stuff, including your name, address, and other basic information about yourself.
- Determine how many recommenders you’ll need for each of your target programs. Choose the best recommenders possible and begin approaching them with your request in July.
- Begin brainstorming for the essay sections of your applications.
- Provide your recommenders with the information they need. Make their job as easy as possible by giving them a copy of your resume in addition to the recommender questions, directions, and deadlines.
- Continue working on your application essays. By this point, you should have clear outlines for each essay and should be creating your first drafts.
- If you weren’t able to visit schools in the spring, then now would be a good time to schedule those visits. If that’s still not an option, then you should try to attend MBA fairs and receptions to learn more about the schools you’re applying to. Remember, even if you’ve already decided on where you’d like to go, visiting schools and info sessions will help sharpen your conception of “fit,” which will in turn help you create better, more focused applications.
- Follow up with your recommenders to ensure that they’ve completed and submitted your recommendations.
- Edit your application essays making sure that each one highlights different skills, interests, experiences, and personality traits, while still working together as a unit to portray a unifying picture of YOU.
- Complete your essays by proofreading them carefully. Don’t rely on your word processor’s spell check alone – use your own two eyes (and ideally someone else’s as well) to check and then double check that the spelling, grammar, usage, style, and formatting is all spot-on.
- Proofread your entire application. Make sure you haven’t skipped any boxes or forms and that each application component portrays you at your very best.
Applying to b-school is no simple feat; but if you stick to the above schedule, you’ll have plenty of time to complete your applications methodically and thoroughly, continue your community service, maintain excellence at work, and even live a little. 🙂