MBA Application Timeline: Final 3 months before applyingFinal application tips before applying
This is the fourth and final article in MBA Prep School’s Application Timeline series.
Published December 16, 2011
In the first three articles in MBA Prep School’s Application Timeline Series, we told you what you needed to do at each phase of the application process, beginning a year out from the application deadlines. This article covers the final three months before you upload your MBA application masterpiece to the MBA admissions website and click submit. This is the final leg of the marathon that you started over nine months ago. Stay focused, work hard, and follow these steps – you will make it to the finish line on time.
Whereas much of your competition won’t start their application preparation process until a couple of months before the deadlines, you will have a huge head start if you’ve followed the timeline we’ve given you in these articles. While they will be pulling their hair out trying to get everything finished in time, you can maintain a healthy pace, and get every step right in the last leg of the race. The focus of your final three months is the execution of your application strategy -- in your essays, recommendation letters, and interview preparation.
Write your “Fit Essays”
When it comes time to write a complete set of application essays, you’ll use the school’s “Fit Qualities” you identified in your school research to select the essay topics and stories you will write about. With the knowledge of the strengths and attributes the schools you are applying to value most clearly in mind, identify the personal and professional stories that feature those valued qualities and start drafting. Remember that the secret to effective writing is rewriting. Plan on doing at least four drafts of every essay, and seek editorial feedback from a couple of people you can trust to ensure that your stories are clear and the messages you are trying to send are getting through to your reader.
Collaborate with your references
Regarding your recommendation letters, great process management leads to the highest quality output. Admissions officers fully expect the recommendation letter process to be a collaborative one. You’ll probably be asking your references to recommend you to more than one school; so you need to give them plenty of support and plenty of time. Most schools ask specific questions on the recommendation forms and they want those specific questions answered. Tell your recommenders about the Fit Qualities you want to emphasize in each application to help them to tailor their letters in the same way that you’re tailoring your resume and essays.
One housekeeping detail that trips some applicants up is submitting all the required application paperwork to the schools on time. You, on the other hand, should already have your transcripts in hand, your test scores submitted, and any other administrative tasks close to complete.
Prepare for admissions interviews
Although most schools don’t interview candidates until after the application deadlines, a handful of programs, such as Kellogg and Tuck, interview some candidates prior to or closely following the application deadlines. If you are applying to one of these programs, then you need to prepare for your interview at the same time that you are in execution mode on the rest of your application.
The Final Month (a.k.a “the Last Mile”)
The final four weeks to the deadline will be intense. Even if you’ve built a strong foundation, followed every step MBA Prep School has recommended, and executed your application strategy flawlessly, pressing the submit button is sometimes the toughest step of all. There are a few things you can do to reduce your anxiety in the last mile of your race.
· Triple-proof your application
Have every component of your application proofed at least three times by three different people. A typo or two is not going to sink your chances but a sloppy application will seriously hurt you. Your application package is a representation of you – and you want it to sparkle. By this point, you will probably be too close to your application materials to see the minor flaws, which is why you need to enlist the help of people you trust. You may even choose to enlist the help of professional editors and proofreaders. MBA Prep School does provide these editorial services if you’re so inclined.
· Submit your application early
Another way to ensure that your masterpiece isn’t left on the virtual loading dock is to submit everything a couple of weeks before the deadline. Not only will you avoid the possibility that a school’s overloaded servers somehow prevent you from uploading your work, you might even get an early read if the school practices a first-in-first-out application review process.
· Ensure recommendation letters are in
Once you’ve submitted your application, you want to check in with your references to ensure that they’ve submitted their letters. We suggest you set early deadlines for your references. Presumably, because you started working with them weeks in advance they won’t feel rushed at all. One other note, these folks have worked very hard for you. At a minimum send them a thank you note – but a thank you gift is probably in order.
· Take a 2-week vacation
Okay, so you’re done. Did you press send? Good. Now take a couple of weeks off, relax, and reconnect with family and friends. Then, get back to work – you have admissions interviews to prepare for.
· Prepare for admissions interviews
When the interview invitations start arriving, you’ll only have a few weeks lead time; so you should start preparing for interviews a couple of weeks after sending in your application to ensure that you’re fully prepared by interview day.
When you look back at the entire MBA Prep School Application Timeline Series, you might feel overwhelmed. At a minimum you are now conscious of how challenging and involved the business school application process can be. Take it a step at a time and you’ll get to the finish line knowing that you did everything in your power to achieve your goal of getting into your dream school.
Please visit us at MBA Prep School. We offer how-to videos, eBooks, exercises and tools to help you every step of the way in your MBA application. On our site, you’ll learn the secrets that top MBA admissions consultants use to help their clients build outstanding applications. We hope you’ve benefitted from the timeline series and look forward to helping you earn an acceptance letter to your dream school. Good luck and Prepare to be Accepted!™
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