Recycling and more

One of the things that I discuss up front with all of my clients is our schedule and general approach to this process. Axechick recently discussed her strategy for tackling the essays and I agree with much of her approach. After going through this process literally hundreds of times, I have some firm ideas about how to organize your calendar. How much can you recycle essays from school to school? Should you work on several schools at a time? Can you apply to all six schools in round one? While everyone’s way will differ slightly, here is an overview of what has generally worked well for my clients.
1) One school at a time. I recommend coming close to finishing one application before moving on to the next one. If you start working on schools in parallel, you will end up unnecessarily repeating work. You make a change to one essay, you need to go back and make that change everywhere. Again, better to wait until you have that first school close to final.
2) Plan to recycle. You do not want to recycle too muc, of course. Each essay needs to be completely customized to the school and to the question being asked. But if you are asked why you want your MBA five times, there is no reason why you should have to alter that answer much. Similarly, that great example about the project you spearheaded at work can be applied to several questions across schools.
3) View your application as a whole. Don’t spend too much time agonizing over a single essay until you can view it in the context of your overall application. You may have some very good essays in isolation, but your total story may be incomplete.
4) Be open to slipping to later rounds. Depending on deadlines, planning to have all of your applications submitted in round 1 may be incredibly ambitious. Value quality over timing. Make sure that the applications are ready before rushing to submit in round 1.
5) Get ready to sweat. Don’t get too freaked out by the fact that this does not come easily. Take your time and be prepared to go through several drafts. It is a very rare individual that does not struggle with this process. Expecting it to come easily is setting yourself up for failure.

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