Many b-school aspirants see the spring and summer solely as a time to take a GMAT prep course. They often wait until they are neck deep in the process of writing their essays and compiling all of their other application materials to identify the elements of their candidacy they wish to improve.
But, with a little advanced planning and a commitment of just a few hours a week, applicants can do a great deal to bolster their overall candidacy starting in the spring before they apply.
Business schools pride themselves in training future leaders, and look for individuals who are concerned about doing great work and improving the world around them. If you feel that your commitment over the last several years to outside causes does not reflect the balance you want to establish in your life…well, put your money where your mouth is and get involved.
If you have been involved with outside activities over the last couple of years, consider stepping your activities up a notch. One of our clients had helped out for a few hours a month for two years at a local Ronald McDonald House. In the spring, he upped his involvement by organizing some fundraising/recruiting events for young professionals.
It’s true that young professionals work long hours and often have demanding travel schedules, which sometimes rules out activities such as Big Brothers/Sisters or tutoring. But the next person who says he or she cannot spend two hours on a weekend to help clean up a park or paint a school or talk with seniors at a nursing home will be the first.
Getting in the habit of reading again will pay huge dividends for your candidacy and your application process. You are about to engage in quite possibly the most demanding writing process of your adult life. And you’ve probably forgotten half of the vocabulary words you learned for your SATs.
Reading outside of work will immerse your brain in the English language again, expanding your active/accessible vocabulary, reacquainting you with interesting sentence structures and illustrating great organizational techniques for your essays. Your apps and your GMAT scores will both benefit.
But beyond that, you’ll probably become a more interesting person. You’ll show that you take time to get to know more about topics that are important to you. You’ll have more to talk about with interviewers. You may even gain some material for essays.
You have a better chance of being admitted to any school if it is the right school for you. Many candidates look at rankings and decide to apply to the top few schools. You will be far better off if you do your own research, talk to students and alums and, if possible, visit campuses.
Doing this type of research early on will help you to better understand the schools, and quite possibly change your mind about where you want to apply. You also will be better qualified to answer the question, “Why do you want to go here?” Demonstrating an understanding of what makes a school unique and showing that you are truly passionate about attending will take you far.
If you get a little bit of a jump start on prepping for your GMAT and application-writing process now, you’ll find your fall and winter a much more productive and enjoyable time.