Tuesday Tips – Last Minute Application Tips

If you’re working to make the early to mid-January deadlines for schools like Wharton, Stanford, Kellogg, or HBS you are likely rushing to finalize your essays and other application materials. To make the last few days before the deadlines easier on yourself, make sure you have taken care of those last minute details before you hit submit.

Data Forms
Start filling out the online data forms now. Make sure you have reviewed the entire application and know what is required. You don’t want to find yourself missing your father’s date of birth or writing a 100 word essay on your favorite hobby at midnight on January 5th.

Most applications require a bit more detail about your job and your activities in the data forms section. While it is tempting to cut and paste from your resume, make sure you are really answering the questions and selling your value to the admissions committee. For example, HBS asks for your job responsibilities, which is really your job description. Ask yourself what your boss will write to seek a new candidate for your job once you head off to business school? The other questions about your job (challenges and accomplishments) are specific to you, and should provide a brief example of something you have done while holding the position.

Make sure your recommenders know the deadlines and are ready to submit! Encourage each of your recommenders to submit early, so you can focus on the part of the application you need to deliver.

If you prepared your recommenders well, with a packet of information to help them answer the questions, they should be feeling confident about the letters. Remind each of them to focus on the attributes MBA programs are interested in: leadership, teamwork, and management potential. Your recommenders want to make sure you are admitted and will welcome any assistance you can provide.

Stick to the word limits. While most schools will allow a 10% margin of error, the admissions committee wants to see concise and focused essays. When you are asked to keep your essays brief, make sure you are following that guidance. At a minimum holding to the word limit guidance demonstrates you can follow directions. If you are having a hard time cutting any of your material, seek the help of family or friends who can be more analytical with your words and let you know what is really essential.

After months of writing drafts, seeking feedback from friends and family, and changing everything about your essays you are finally ready to submit. Don’t just “accept all changes” and upload your essay documents. Make sure you have cut and paste your essays into an entirely new document that was not used for drafting. Many word processing programs can allow the reader to track changes and see earlier drafts of your document. To present the most professional application you will want to provide clean drafts.

Submit Early
Before you hit the submit button make sure you print out your application and read through it a few times. There are always a few typos you will catch. Seeking the assistance of friends and family for this task is always helpful as fresh eyes can find many small errors. Don’t panic if you end up submitting your application with a handful of minor typos, it is common and will not be held against you.

With online applications there is always an overload on the system the day applications are due. Avoid any concerns about your submission reaching the admissions committee by submitting a day or two ahead of time. Waiting until the last minute is both stressful and risky.

Finally, once you have submitted your application, relax! You have worked hard over the past few months, pouring your dreams onto paper, and it’s time to focus on other things. Avoid the temptation to visit online forums ”“ they are full of misinformation and foster stress. Think about a plan B if you aren’t admitted this year, seek new projects at work, renew your hobbies, and, most importantly, spend quality time with your family and friends before you are absorbed into MBA life.

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SBC_Harvard_Essay_Guide-150x150If you are feeling stumped by your application essays and need some additional guidance, check out our NEW series of essay guides for MBA applications. Columbia, Harvard, Kellogg, Stanford and Wharton available now. They are seriously terrific and we are proud to say that almost every person who has ordered one has come back for more!


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