6 Things to Do in May While You Wait for MBA Essay Prompts

As the weather gets nicer, it may be harder to focus on your applications, but there’s so much you can be doing in May to make it easier on you in the coming months. Here are some things you can be focused on this month:
1. Finalize Your MBA Strategy

Consider your short and long-term goals and whether you NEED an MBA to reach those goals. Answer “Why MBA and Why Now?” What do you need to learn from an MBA? Cross-industry exposure, soft skills, leadership skills, cross-functional exposure? Also, consider some key themes that illustrate you as a candidate, or a personal brand that conveys who you are and what strengths you have. Are you a creative leader? Someone who brings people together to solve problems?

2. Focus on your weakness

At this point you have likely spoken with your manager and mentors about your plans to apply to MBA programs. What constructive feedback have they given you? Make sure that you are taking steps to address that feedback and demonstrate growth. Maybe you need to improve your quantitative profile; find ways to contribute that involve budgeting or P&L responsibility. Or perhaps you can build out your leadership or management experience. Identify opportunities to contribute above and beyond your formal job description so it will be easy for your recommenders to call you out as being ahead of your peers.

3. Continue to Visit Programs

May is a good time to visit schools you are interested in, especially before final exams begin. Check each school’s website to make sure you can visit on a regular class day. Some programs wrap up early so do your research before scheduling your visit. For programs that have finished for the year, seek out first-years interning in your area and connect over the summer. The more you can learn about a program, the better prepared you are to apply.

4. Focus on GMAT/GRE Preparation

If you don’t have a GMAT or GRE score that you’re happy with – or one that falls in the 80% range of the schools you’re targeting – buckle down and study. If you are re-taking the test, identify areas where you need to put in the most effort. Consider hiring a tutor to get targeted assistance. If you haven’t scheduled a test date, get one on the calendar. It will motivate you to prepare with an end date in sight. Ideally, you will have a final score by early June so you can hit the ground running when essay prompts are released.

5. Request Your Transcripts

Reach out to your undergrad institution to get your transcripts sent so you can upload them into applications. If you did a study abroad program through another university, make sure to get that transcript as well. This is one thing you can check off your list so you won’t have to scramble later.

6. Decide Where to Apply in Round 1

Put together a list with three stretch schools, three target schools and three safety schools. Keep in mind that even if you have stellar GMAT, GPA and work experience, M7 schools are stretch schools for everyone. Target schools have student profiles that are right in line with your numbers and profile, and safety schools should be close to a sure thing for you. You might not end up applying to all of these, but it’s helpful to have a list of schools in each category that have the resources you need to develop the skills, knowledge and relationships to help you reach your goals. Sign up for email notifications so you find out as soon as the application materials are released. Get each school’s program code so you aren’t searching for it in September when you are requesting that your test scores be shared with each school.

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