It’s nearly December—the home stretch for MBA hopefuls applying to business school in uber-competitive Round 2. With numerous deadlines hitting in early January, you’ll need to manage your time well throughout the holidays. Run through this To-Do List for MBA applicants and make sure you have every application component covered.
Right now, prepping recommenders and drafting essays make up the two most important focus areas. Here’s what you need to do to stay on track and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
#1 To-Do List for MBA Applicants: Recommender Management
Great recommendation letters are one of the most critical pieces of your MBA application. They give the admissions team much-needed third-party insight to round out your essays and resume. By now your recommenders should know your hard deadlines.
Current and recent supervisors make the best choices, because they can speak to your present-day skills, values, and work ethic, as well as future potential. If you haven’t already, it’s time to remind them of the attributes you want them to highlight in their letter.
Spell out exactly what you hope they will convey in their recommendation. MBA programs want to see examples of leadership, teamwork, and management potential. Additionally, you can make things easy for your recommender by providing a list of at least three strengths with supporting anecdotes. Remind your supervisor of your career goals as a reference.
Your recommenders want to boost your admissions chances and will welcome the guidance. Encourage each of them to submit early if possible, so you can focus on a part of the application you need to deliver — the essays.
#2 To-Do List for MBA Applicants: Essays
Ideally, you should allow six weeks for this portion of the application. Many candidates find it helpful to start by writing rough drafts that go 50% or more above the required word count. While that seems like more work, it ultimately creates a better final product. The revision process helps you hone in on the best topics or anecdotes to support your overall application.
Applicants from over-represented industries such as finance, information technology, engineering, or consulting should use the essays to focus on the aspects of your personal life that make you unique. Include hobbies, community service activities, passions and interests that make you stand out. Check out this essay tips post from admissions director Soojin Kwon at Michigan Ross School for inspiration.
If you need extra insight about what the admissions committee is looking for at your target schools, consider using one of SBC’s strategy guides. These resources analyze the qualities that each school seeks, and help applicants understand which stories to emphasize throughout their materials.
Competition is fierce in Round 2, and it’s a tough time of the year to find extra hours. Use this knowledge to fuel your commitment to your MBA applications and put together the best materials you can.