Year-End To-Do List for MBA Applicants

To-Do List MBA applicantsIt’s early 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 On the 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.

(See B-Schooled podcast episode #78: Unique Recommender Situations)

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 precisely 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 the part of the application you need to deliver—the essays.

#2 MBA Application Essays

Ideally, applicants 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 evergreen 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 always fierce in Round 2, but additional factors will affect this season’s applicant pool in particular. First, more international students are applying to US schools after sitting out last year due to embassy closures and visa hurdles. Also, the record application numbers of the 2020-21 cycle led to more dings. Many of those applicants will reapply now.

Third, this is likely the final admissions cycle allowing test waivers for many MBA programs. Candidates who feel unsure about their standardized test performance may decide to throw their hat in the ring this year to test the waters on their candidacy strength.

Good luck to everyone working on the Round 2 application countdown!

If you have an interview coming up, you will want to review SBC’s interview prep services. The key to interview success is practice and we provide you with all the tools you need to do just that.

  • Leverage our video platform to practice, view yourself and improve
  • Work with our experts for live rehearsal and feedback
  • Download a guide for lists of practice questions, tips on how to prep and overviews of interview formats
  • Experience a real group interview before your big day

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