The road to your MBA can be complex and sometimes confusing. To help keep you on track, here’s a calendar of what b-school applicants should be doing, and when.

Don’t Forget: The final Round III deadlines for the top U.S. b-schools fall from early March through late April. After that, only certain international b-schools will still be considering applications for Fall 2018.

Unless otherwise specified, the items on this page are written for applicants with a 2019 matriculation in mind.

Waitlisted Applicants:

  • Waitlisted applicants have several anxious months ahead of them. If you haven’t already been working with one of our consultants, you might want to consider our fixed-fee waitlist assistance package. One of our highly qualified consultants will review your applications and advise you on the probable reasons for your waitlist decisions and on the best way to handle this situation. They will also guide you through the process of preparing any additional material the consultant feels you should submit to the program, such as a letter reiterating your interest in the program, an additional letter of reference, etc. Call us at 1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and Canada) to learn more.

  • In the meantime, make sure you follow the Golden Rule of waitlist etiquette.

GMAT:

  • If you’re a 2019 applicant, plan to take the GMAT this spring or summer. That way you’ll get your scores back in time to factor your test performance into your school selection. You’ll also leave yourself plenty of time to retake the test if you aren’t happy with your first score. For information on registering for and scheduling a test, visit the GMAC’s website (www.mba.com). You are also cordially invited to review our GMAT prep section.

  • Not sure whether you need a GMAT prep course? Call us at 1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and Canada) to discuss your situation. We’re here to help you!

School and Program Selection:

  • If you were dinged in Rounds I and II, it’s time to regroup. You still have time to submit Round III applications to additional schools – but just barely. (For some very useful insights on Round III decisions, see Senior Consultant Doug Braithwaite’s comments on how Round III differs from the earlier rounds.) But don’t apply to any school that you wouldn’t genuinely want to attend. You’d probably be wasting your time and money on the application, anyway. Nothing biases an admissions committee against an applicant more than a palpable lack of enthusiasm for their school. You’d be better off waiting to apply to your target schools as a re-applicant. If you’re not sure of where you stand, our special, fixed-fee ding analysis package may be just the help you need. Call us at 1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and Canada) or email us to learn more.

  • 2019 applicants should also plan to complete any remaining school visits by this spring at the very latest, especially any where you have an active application at. If you’re going to have an admissions interview, try to combine your school visit with an on-campus interview.

  • If you’re a 2020 applicant, choose the kind of program you want to apply for: full-time, part-time, or EMBA. Keep in mind that different kinds of programs require different application strategies. If an EMBA or part-time program seems like the best fit for you, look into whether your employer will help pay for your tuition or otherwise support your studies. Make sure you understand what you would be expected to do in return. Most employers will ask you to commit to continue working for them for a minimum number of years.

  • 2020 applicants should also start researching their b-school choices. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all of the top b-schools are alike – they’re not. Each school has its own approach to management education, its own institutional culture, and its own admissions preferences. You’ll increase your admissions chances by considering which schools are your best fits, and why.

  • Start compiling a list of target schools. Don’t include any schools you genuinely wouldn’t want to go to, but don’t include so few schools that you risk leaving yourself shut out, either. You need to be realistic about the admissions chances that even well-qualified candidates face at the top schools. If your top priority is to begin an MBA program, you should plan to apply to at least several different schools.

Academics:

  • Spring and summer are good times for 2020 applicants to take non-credit college courses for an alternative transcript that can help mitigate a low GMAT score and/or a low undergraduate GPA. Try to find at least one course with an instructor who would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you.

Extracurriculars:

  • The right extracurricular activities can give your application an edge. Think about what you do outside of work. Will those activities support your case for b-school admission? Would you benefit from increasing your level of commitment, or by getting involved in additional groups or activities? Would you benefit from stepping up to a leadership position or launching a new project? If you do decide to take on new activities or duties, it’s wise to get started well before the application season begins. Otherwise, you’ll risk giving admissions committees the impression that your involvement was motivated only by the desire to beef up your b-school applications.

Applications:

“It’s a good idea to create a grid in which you match your stories to the essay set for each school’s application. This gives you a visual tool to see if you’re properly communicating your positioning across the entirety of the application before you begin writing individual essays.”

– Senior Admissions Consultant Ed Anderson. Ed served on the MBA admissions committees at Stanford, Duke and UNC Chapel Hill.

  • Start a file with the information and documents you will need for your applications later this year. It should include copies of your college transcripts, for your own reference.

  • Start keeping a list of which schools you think you want to apply to, in which rounds. Make sure that you will be able to meet the necessary deadlines while still leaving yourself enough time to prepare applications that clearly demonstrate a good fit with each school. Most likely, this will require considerable customization from one application to the next. Keep in mind the different tradeoffs at each school between applying early or applying with a more complete application.

  • Start thinking about the story themes and ‘wow’ factors that you will use in your business school admission essays. What life experiences have led you to the decision to apply to b-schools? What makes you different from the many other applicants who are also applying?

  • Look over your resume. Does it support your reasons for wanting to get an MBA and your post-MBA career goals? Remember that it will be read by b-school admissions committee members, not recruiters in your industry.  Accordingly, be sure your resume is prepared in accordance with a business- school-admission-friendly format.

  • Start thinking about who you will ask to write your letters of recommendation. Choose people who can give different perspectives on your work and leadership abilities. Also consider whether you might benefit from an additional, optional recommendation to substantiate a story theme or ‘wow’ factor, highlight your strengths, or, possibly, mitigate your weaknesses.

Our MBA Admissions Timeline page will be updated on May 1.

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