Ants in the pants?

Going stir crazy? Your fingers and toes keep tapping away, and you check your schools website ten times a day to see if they have released the questions yet? Or have any updates on your status?

Want to get a start on your MBA application but don’t know what to do with yourself?

As I’m sure you know by now both Harvard, Columbia, Duke, Wharton and scores of others have released their questions for the 2011 September intake. But if you happen not to be applying to one of these schools you might be beside yourself with anxiety to get started.

Well, there are plenty of ways to put all that good energy to use. Stuff you can actually do to prepare your essay application.

1) Do your research! – What do you know about Stanford, other than the fact that it’s ranked one of the top three MBA programs preeeeetty much every year? Do you know their percentage of international students? Have you ever heard of the “touchy-feely” class? Have you read the book of the professor who is likely to be your most interesting contact there? Well, now’s a good time to get cracking. Research makes you rich. When you talk about the school, your familiarity will show. Always a good thing. You will need a LOT of info about each and every school you apply to, from courses to programs, to names of the cafeteria, to special school trips, to companies in your industry that hire from the school.

2) Contact current student/alumni – It boils down to this:

a. There isn’t a better place for the real scoop about the school that’ll help you decide whether you really want to go or not, in case you’re on the fence. Usually, it exposes your true leaning rather than actually nudge you one way or another.

b. It’s a good place to get insider tips about school offerings that you might not know about on a cursory search on a website, attending an info session, etc.

c. Good to know people for name-dropping in your essay (it won’t get you in, but it won’t hurt your application either).

3) Prepare your resume – How long has it been since you’ve dusted off that… thing you used to get that job from… years ago? You should be preparing a résumé that focuses on aspects of you and your work and life experience that will help to promote your application! It may not look exactly like a job resume, (but it’ll be pretty darn similar). Here, you’ll wanna foreground your Work Experience (this reigns supreme in an MBA application resume). Then your Education. Then Community Service. And finally, awards and achievements which could also be peppered throughout… and your personality, which should believe it or not shine through some way or another. (More about these things in a future blog.)

4) Practice, practice, practice – You’ve already done the above three and you STILL have time?! You are amazing… but there’s still work for you. Think about taking last year’s questions and writing out full essays for them. Like everything else, you will learn best by doing, and even if ALL the questions change entirely this year (which happens) you will have at least gotten the hang of what essay writing is like. But more importantly, thought through all the important issues like focusing your career goals, identifying leadership experiences, etc.

Lot’s to do, always. And the more you do, the smoother it’ll be when you’re ready to officially crank on your essays, for whatever round you’re gonna hit.

Don’t be a Schmuck