You’ve got five weeks left before Round 2 deadlines, and your MBA application timeline is starting to feel impossible.
Round 2 deadlines are particularly evil since they’re perfectly timed to conflict with family obligations, additional festive stress, and holiday hangovers. BUT as long you’ve got a strategic MBA application timeline, you’ll be able to survive December and submit for Round 2.
MBA Application Timeline – Week 1
Set a realistic timeline. Read through the ENTIRE application and make sure you plan for everything on it (don’t forget those short answers!). Make a timeline for yourself and stick to it. If you scramble at the end, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
Know exactly who your recommenders are and what your strategy is going to be. Give your recommenders as much time as possible. After all, they’re doing you a huge favor. BUT don’t let them run the show. It’s up to you to coach your recommenders and make sure that their recommendations support YOUR strategy and how you want to present yourself to the adcom.
MBA Application Timeline – Week 2
Start drafting your first set of essays. If you’re applying to multiple schools, the first school is going to take the longest. But once you’ve got that down, each subsequent application will go much faster. Focus on picking your best stories and figuring out how to present them in a compelling way.
Don’t neglect your resume. A b-school resume is different than a job resume. Adcoms want to see IMPACT, and they want to see you back up your claims with evidence. However, adcoms are NOT experts in your field; make sure it’s written simply enough that even grandma could understand it.
MBA Application Timeline – Week 3
Draft and re-draft. The earlier you start the editing and drafting process, the better. Give yourself time to be introspective and think things through. The last thing you want to do is write drafts with a deadline breathing down your neck.
Get a second opinion. Having another set of eyes on your application is crucial. And get that second opinion early on in the drafting process; if you’re going in the wrong direction, you want time to make smart revisions (and avoid total re-writes 5 hours before the deadline). But BEWARE of having too many cooks in the kitchen. Everyone’s got an opinion, and if you get too many, your voice is going to get lost. So stick with one or two trusted sources.
MBA Application Timeline – Week 4
Check in on your recommenders. Make sure everything is on track to hit your deadlines, and don’t forget to remind them of any holiday delays that may occur.
Continue working on your essays. One school at a time. It’s easy to make silly mistakes and muddle your ideas when you’re jumping from one school to the next and going back again.
Take a break. Around this time, you’ll probably be tempted to take some time off to gorge yourself on ham, but that’s ok! Taking a break can help you avoid application fatigue and give you the push you need to get to the finish line.
MBA Application Timeline – Week 5
Keep your recommenders on track. Letters of recommendation are really a test of how well you can manage other people: your recommenders. If they submit the letters late or blow the word limits, that’s going to reflect poorly on you. So check in on them!
Double and triple check your application. Spelling, school names, deadline times – don’t ruin your chances with a stupid mistake.
Submit ON TIME. Remember there’s no benefit to submitting early, but there’s definitely no benefit to submitting LATE. We hear this all the time: People wait until the very last second to submit their application and their Internet goes out, the server crashes, they had the time wrong… Check those deadlines (date, time, time zone) an submit on time.
MBA Application Timeline – Week 6
Whew! YOU MADE IT. Now you can nap, watch Netflix, and reintroduce yourself to your friends. And your bed. And beer?
MBA Application Timeline – Week 7
Hope you didn’t get too comfortable in Week 6 because it’s time to start thinking about your interviews. You’ve made it this far; don’t get lazy now. The interview is a big and important step in the process, so prepare for it! And while you’re at it, now’s a great time to send out thanks you cards and gifts to your recommenders. As our pal Ron Burgundy (sort of) once said, “Stay classy, MBA applicants.”