It's summer: How to Utilize your summer (and the rest of the year) to apply for an MBA
Here in the States, it's Memorial Day Weekend which for us, is the unofficial start of the summer. While for most people this might mean time to plan for a summer of fun, for those applying for their MBA this year, summer is a prime time to work on their application. Whether you're applying for R1 or R2, expect summer to be busy and laden with efforts in applying for your MBA. Here's my suggested timeline in maximizing the summer time to applying for MBA, using R1 deadline as the end goal:
June: Ideally, you've already been studying for the GMAT/GRE because at this point you should be wrapping up and on your final few attempts. If you haven't yet, this is also a good time to start prepping or taking the TOEFL/IELTS. I consider June to be the final stretch of Test Preparation as you want to give yourself at least 2 weeks to a month to work on each MBA application (I recommend applying for at least 3 programs to maximize your chances. Additionally, now is a good time to start narrowing down the program list so that you can start planning out networking and attending program events.
July: If you still haven't wrapped up the studying, make sure you're doing so now, because it's time to work on your written deliverables and network! I'd start polishing the resume at this point, and have it ready for feedback. At the same time, remember how you used June to narrow down your school list? Well, time to follow through on the networking and start attending program events and reaching out to alumni. You want to use this time to finalize your MBA program choices so that you can accurately plan out and set aside time to work on the essays -- especially if you're applying for more than 3 schools. It might even be a good idea to start drafting one of the applications. Regardless if you do or not, more importantly, start thinking about your story.
August: Ok, definitely time to start drafting the essays and also ask for letters of recommendations! Don't underestimate the time it takes to work on each application. Some programs even have several elements per an application that end up taking more deep thinking and time writing. Thus, get on it and start writing! At the same time, keep attending those networking events and getting face time. Finally, don't forget to start requesting for your academic record from your university. This sometimes is a complicated or cumbersome process so the earlier you address it the better.
September: Depending on the application deadline, you might still be writing or on the verge of submitting. But beyond just writing, make sure you're improving your essays and getting feedback by sharing your essays for peer review at least two weeks before the deadline. If you can, try to get feedback from a native English speaker who's currently or has attended an MBA program. If a native speaker is not an option, try to find someone who has/is attending a top MBA program that is kind enough to review for you. Better if you're friends or have an already established connection. Use the final week to improve on and finalize all essays. Additionally, check-in with your recommenders. Make sure they're completing their end of the deal and gently remind them of the deadline if they're behind. Also, keep networking if possible.
October: At this point, R1 is pretty much done. Thus, hopefully you have submitted your application and are prepping for potential interviews. Do some more research on the programs you applied for, google common MBA interview questions, and start putting together a "cheatsheet" of answers you have for potential MBA interviews. That way when you do get an interview invite, you'll be ready to practice with a mock interview, and then be prepared for the actual interview.
November: Similar to October, keep practicing or executing MBA interviews. Network with more alumni for advice, research your interviewers if possible.
December: Decision time! Most programs will have a result for you by the first two weeks of December. If you got an acceptance - congratulations! If you are waitlisted, please see this post for advice on how to navigate the waitlist. And well if sadly you got no acceptances, at least you have the opportunity to apply for other programs in R2. Make sure you start those essays earlier and try to get feedback on your previous submitted applications so that you can improve your chances for R2!
But what if I haven't yet started studying for the GMAT/GRE or plan on applying for R2?
If you've read any of my previous posts you know that I highly advocate students to apply for R1 for the better acceptance chances and scholarship opportunities. But with that being said, R2 is better than R3 so here's how to maximize your summer (and fall) for a R2 application deadline.
July: Study for GMAT/GRE! The GMAT/GRE is a dealbreaker and can make a huge different when it comes to applying for the MBA. Thus give it your best, maximizing your summer time to consistently and efficiently study for it. You can also start thinking about MBA programs you're interested in and casually attending some networking events, but until you have a better idea of your score, don't get too caught up in it just yet!
August: Keep studying! And light networking.
September: Unless you've got an outstanding score you're satisfactory with, keep doing what you've been doing in August (but smarter).
October: If you still haven't managed to get a satisfactory GMAT/GRE score, you know the drill: keep studying. However, if you did get a strong score, it's time to shift gears. Similar to July for R1, this is the time you want to be finalizing your test scores, including TOEFL/IELTS. If you've able to get a decent verbal score, then the TOEFL/IELTS should be doable within a month of prep work. Unlike the GMAT/GRE, you don't need to keep taking it, as long as you hit 100 or 7 you're in the clear! Ideally you also have a better sense of your GMAT/GRE score and programs that you're interested in. Start networking more seriously and thinking about your narrative. Time to take out that resume and start brushing up on it.
November: Expect to be doing a lot of writing this month. And also reaching out to letters of recommenders and your university for your academic record. A lot of people tend to wait until December to work on their applications but with holidays and other end of the year festivities coming up, I strongly recommend working on your essays earlier rather than later.
December: Essays, essays, essays. With holidays and new year festivities, and potentially work being extra busy during year's end, you will find yourself slammed. Make sure you're finishing up the essays, and getting them peer reviewed at least two weeks before the deadline. You don't want to be working on the essays the last few days before the deadline on NYE, trust me.
And so with summer coming to an unofficial start, for MBA prospectives, it's also the unofficial start of application season. Best of luck to all those applying this year!
For those with additional questions about applying for an MBA, as an Admissions Coach and Consultant I offer FREE 30 minute consultation calls where I personally hear your situation and give my assessment. Unlike most Admissions Consultants, I am open to working with clients who have not yet taken the GMAT/GRE as my full package also offers Standardized Test "coaching" (where I don't teach or tutor the material but I provide support in studying). Schedule your call today for your free assessment and advice on how to approach the MBA Application!