As many aspiring MBA students are wrapping up Round 1 applications or anxiously awaiting a coveted interview invite, perhaps you haven’t even started yet! Don’t worry. If you use your time wisely, you can have several applications complete and ready to submit before Christmas. Here’s what you need to be doing in October.
1. Create a Test Plan
If you already have a GMAT or GRE that you are happy with, congratulations! If not, standardized testing is likely your most important focus this month. Decide which test you will take – GMAT or GRE. Schedule a test date. If English is not your native language, check each MBA program’s requirements for the TOEFL or other test of English language proficiency. (HINT: California state schools insist on TOEFL for Indian nationals.) Create a study plan on which you can execute. Study.
2. Establish your Strategy
Every MBA program wants to know why you want an MBA and what you plan to do post-MBA. Take time for self-reflection. Relax. Forget that you are thinking about getting an MBA. Instead, think about your proudest moments. What are the landmark experiences that have shaped who you are? What really motivates you? What do you love to do? What do you want to do in the future? Dream big! Your answers to these questions should inform why you need an MBA and what your goals are post-MBA.
3. Initiate School Exploration
Identify MBA programs that have resources that will address YOUR areas for development and move you towards YOUR goals. Sign up for newsletters. Register for webinars. Attend local events. Create a short list of YOUR top 10 MBA programs. Schedule campus visits or reach out to current students so you can connect and dig deeper.
4. Nurture Potential Recommenders
Beyond your current immediate supervisor, who will go to bat for you? Identify several people to serve as an additional recommender. Invite them to lunch, go for a run, grab a cup of coffee, or a play a round of golf on the weekend. Share your goals and get a sense of whether or not they will support you in your quest to get an MBA. See 4 Tips to a 5 Star Recommendation.
5. Research Special Events/Weekends
Many MBA programs host special events for groups of potential MBA students they are looking to attract – women, military, LGBT, under-represented minorities. There are also events that bring together multiple MBA programs under the same roof. Prospective applicants who identify as LGBT might attend CHecK uS out: MBA LGBT Open House in NYC on October 7. MBA Veterans Network will be hosting the 10th annual ExploreMBA Veterans Summit October 19-21 in Chicago.
6. Get Busy Work Done
In between thinking deeply and studying for your GMAT or GRE, give your brain a break and do some of the busy work. Since there is no Common App for MBA programs, you need to create your own. Gather up your transcripts. Make a list of activities you were involved in during undergrad. Write down the honors and awards you have received since you started college. This material will come in handy when you start re-working your business school resume.
7. Forget About Essays, for now.
Although MBA programs have released their essay prompts, don’t let those distract you NOW. Focus on your high-level strategy and the narrative you want to share with admissions committee. If you start by writing the essay for one MBA program, you will find yourself trying to adapt that material for all other essays. Trust me. It will not turn out well.
October is the month to lay the groundwork for successful MBA applications. Create YOUR plan and strategy and get to work with execution. Come Thanksgiving you will be grateful for the time well spent.