It may seem early with round 1 deadlines coming in September/October to think about your MBA applications, but believe me, it is not! This is the perfect time to begin your initial preparations and Personal MBA Coach is here to help! I am already working with applicants for the fall.
Here are the 4 main areas you should be focusing on now!
School Evaluation and Selection
- Begin (if you haven’t already) your research on the programs that best fit with your long-term goals and ideal learning environments. Pay careful attention to each school’s culture and the industries where its graduates are most often placed.
- Make sure that you have some “reach” schools, some “target” schools and some “safer” schools, especially if you want to ensure you get in this year.
- Schedule campus visits! Wherever possible, you should visit the campus before applying. There is no better way to get to know a school and many admissions committees want to see you are truly interested.
- Network! Look for current students or alumni in your immediate or extended networks and take the time to talk to them now! Learn about their experiences, what sets their programs apart, etc. This will not only help you confirm fit, but further stress your interest to the ad-coms. Undergraduate alumni databases are a great source to find these connections and try to make more than 1. This is especially important for the schools that ask whether you have done this in the essays.
Letters of Recommendation Preparation
- Now is the time to start thinking about who you want to write your letters of recommendation! This way you can have enough time to focus on accomplishing the things you would like covered in the letters.
- Focus on someone who can write the best letter about you, not the person with the most impressive title.
- If you have a skill set your future recommender hasn’t seen yet (especially one that fits with your story), now is the time to let it shine!
Fill in Extra-Curricular Gaps
- The focus should be on quality and not quantity so think about how you can take on a broader role within your existing activities or perhaps find something new that better speaks to you.
- Leadership roles outside of work look great on an application, especially if this is a professional gap.
- Focus on areas you are passionate about that fit with your story! Example: if you want a career as an educational consultant, volunteer in the education industry. This may seem obvious but a long list of activities that don’t fit with your passions isn’t going to do much to strengthen your application.
Begin Thinking about Your Story
- Everyone has a unique story, spend the time now to think about yours.
- What are the themes that tie together your personal and career moves? What makes you tick? For almost every school, there is an essay that will require a fine-tuned story and it is important to be authentic. Take the time now to really think this through. It can be a lot harder than it seems!
- Look at existing essays. While next year’s essays might not be out yet, they are often similar year to year, so take a look at what your target schools asked this year. Even if the essay changes, this will give you a better idea of what is important to each school.