SBC Scoop: Timing Your MBA Plans

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

Right now we are mid-way between first and second rounds, and many prospective applicants are wondering if they should rush for the January deadlines or wait to apply next year. Timing is a highly personal decision that can include factors like: age, work situation, financial situation and career goals.

Helen sought our advice for her round two applications to MIT Sloan and Duke. It was mid-November and her deadlines were in January. She still needed to take her GMAT and was concerned that six weeks was not enough time to conquer the test, prepare her recommenders and write two full sets of essays. Every year we help clients in similar situations prepare full applications in a short period of time, but the most important factor was Helen’s own schedule and commitment.

To ascertain the best plan for Helen we started by discussing her work experience thus far and her career goals. Helen worked for a large technology company and had four years of work experience in project management. Her goal was to move to business development at a similar company post-MBA. Since four years is a reasonable amount of work experience for an MBA application and Helen had shown progression (raises and a title promotion) I asked her if she would see any significant promotions or raises in the next year. She didn’t think that a year would change her work experience significantly. Helen had a long track record of volunteering as a mentor to girls interested in science careers, and had a few years as a leader within her company’s mentor program. We didn’t anticipate any major changes or improvement to this volunteerism if she waited an additional year. At the end of the conversation we decided to aim for the current application year, and re-evaluate if the GMAT wasn’t a success.

Helen worked hard to draft her essays and review them several times with me. At the same time she met with her recommenders and prepared them thoroughly to submit her references by January. Helen was nervous about the GMAT, but she was able to score a strong 720 on her first attempt. The plan to submit was solid, and Helen was able to make the deadlines with a bit of hard work and dedication.

Helen’s efforts paid off, and she ended up attending Sloan and landing a great job in business development at a technology start-up post graduation.

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