For those of you planning to submit applications in Round 2, time is moving forward. In about one month, the majority of leading MBA programs will have their Round 2 deadlines, all squashed into about a week of the calendar. To make sure you are not caught by the rush of New Year applications, now is a good time to take stock of where you are at in the process, and commit to a timeline for the next month which, for many, will include some holiday celebrations.
At this point you should have selected the schools to which you plan to apply. Some of this selection will be based on what feedback you might have received during Round 1, if you did apply in Round 1 at all. Some of the selection will be based on your own research.
Researching the schools, seeking why they are a good fit for you, and why you are a good fit for their programs, is an ongoing task and should be well underway. If you plan to visit schools, just make sure that they are open and classes are in session; visiting over the holidays may well not yield the insights into a program that you are seeking. If a visit is not practical, seek means to reach out to students or alumni of the schools, engage them, and continue to learn. Clear Admit’s School Guides are also helpful in learning about the different MBA programs in a short time frame. This process will absolutely help with your essay writing, as well as simply providing a better understanding of why the MBA path makes sense for you.
At this point you should have selected your recommenders and prepared them for the process. This preparation might include providing them with an updated résumé, a draft of your essays, or at least a couple of pages that articulates why you are pursuing your MBA. This allows your recommenders to understand the process and how their content will fit into your admissions plan. Your materials should also include a few professional examples about which you are particularly proud and hope to have addressed in the recommendations. Now might be the time to follow up with your recommenders, meet with them, and see if they have any additional questions about the process. Do not leave this to the new year.
You should also be writing, and rewriting, drafts of your essays. Start with rough outlines, then develop your content. Share your essays with someone that knows you and get feedback. Share your essays with someone who does not know you as well, get some more feedback. The essay writing process is iterative, your essays will improve over time. Your goal for essay writing should be to have them complete a few days before the appropriate application deadline, and then take a couple of days break. Then read them one more time, before finalizing them.
Finally, don’t forget the data forms, short answer questions and your résumé. Do not leave these to the last day. If you applied to schools in the first round, your résumé should be ready. For the data forms, plan to complete them early and leave plenty of time to review the content before you submit the application.
Good luck and make sure to allow enough time to enjoy your holidays.