MBA Application Timeline: 6 - 12 months before applying
3 steps to follow 6 - 12 months before applying
Excerpted from How to Apply for an MBA
This is the second article in MBA Prep School’s Application Timeline series.
Published November 29, 2011
Six to twelve months before the deadlines for the application round you will apply in, you’ll decide which schools to apply to and progress from foundation building to capabilities building.
1. School Research and Selection
During this six-month period, it is time to intensify your school research and select the schools you’re going to apply to. It’s important to go beyond magazine rankings and stereotypes and find the schools that are the best match for you.
In choosing your final list of schools, attend information sessions and, if at possible, visit the schools on your short list. School visits are critical because things like culture and campus dynamics are difficult to ascertain from afar. By the way, if you’re applying in Round 1, then conducting your school visit in the academic year prior to submitting application is necessary if you want to visit while classes are in session.
Keep a journal of all your school research and take careful notes about whom you meet, what you learn, and what impresses you. First hand observations are far more powerful than quoting the websites and reciting other people’s opinions. The case you build about why you have decided to apply to a particular school will be central to your essays and interviews because admissions committees are going to ask you to explain the reasons you want to be part of their specific program.
2. Exercise Your Writing “Muscles”
We often compare an MBA
application to a marathon. 6 to 12 months before the applications are due, you want to progress from general conditioning to building specific “muscle groups” that will get you to the finish line. The most important of these are your writing muscles. If the last essay you wrote was in college, it’s time to start hitting the “writing gym.” Hopefully, you heeded our advice in the prior article and started writing in an application journal to limber up well in advance.
Application essays for the following season will be released in June or early July, but the questions don’t change much from year-to-year so you can start familiarizing yourself with past years’ questions. Even when the questions do change, the thematic categories generally don’t. We recommend that you start drafting possible answers to the classic MBA essay questions such as the “Career Goals Essay” and the “Why Our School” essay during this 6 to 12 month period. As you will see, trying to express yourself on paper will reveal holes in your thinking that need to be closed via further research or deeper meditation on the subject.
3. Sign-Up for Email Distribution Lists and Online Accounts
The application marathon’s starting gun really sounds on the day you sign up for your online application accounts. We suggest you create your online account as early as possible so that you will be notified about school events in your area.
Another good move is to sign up for electronic newsfeeds and admissions officer blogs. These sources will keep you informed and provide answers to many of the questions you have about the application process.
The time to start creating your actual MBA applications will be here before you know it. If you check these three steps off your list, you’ll enjoy a great head start on your competition.
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