Getting accepted to a top MBA program is more competitive than ever. We are quickly approaching round 1 MBA submission deadlines. Are you REALLY ready to submit? Will your applications reflect your best effort? We encourage you to attend our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, August 10, 2021: Help! Am I Ready to Submit in Round 1? hosted by Senior Admissions Counselor Susan Cera. Register for free!
Round 1 application deadlines for top business schools are just over a month away! Although some candidates believe they must apply in Round 1 to have any chance at securing a seat in their dream MBA program, it is important to submit your application when it’s as strong as possible. Furthermore, you want to apply to business school when you are the strongest possible applicant. Go through the following checklists as you consider whether or not you are ready to submit MBA applications next month.
Are You a STRONG Applicant? (aka Are YOU Ready?)
When looking at class profiles for top business schools, you begin to see trends. If your profile doesn’t stack up, perhaps you need to wait another few months or even until next year before applying. Answer the following:
Yes/No – My test score (GMAT or GRE) is within the 80% range of at least one program.
Yes/No – I am prepared for the quantitative rigor of a graduate business school program.
Yes/No – My English language skills will allow me to prepare for class, be an active participant, and be confident that I can respond to a dreaded cold call.
Yes/No – I have at least two years of work experience that demonstrates my progress and contribution over time.
Yes/No – I have functional skills or industry knowledge that will allow me to contribute in class and group projects.
Yes/No – I have experience working with and leading others toward a common goal.
If you answered “No” to any of the above, you probably shouldn’t be applying in Round 1. Take some time to assess your profile, and then take action to ensure that you will be competitive at your target programs. Depending on the areas where your profile is lacking, you may be ready for Round 2 in January. If you fall short in several dimensions, you should consider waiting until next year. See “12 Tips to Enhance Your Business School Profile,” “Five Tips to Build Your Quantitative Profile,” and “Build Your MBA Leadership Profile Through Community Involvement” for guidance on strengthening your profile.
Will Your Applications Be STRONG?
Assuming your profile and experiences make you a competitive applicant, let’s focus on how your applications are coming together and what additional work you must knock out in the next four to eight weeks. Answer the following:
- Yes/No – I have started an online application for every program to which I want to apply.
- Yes/No – I have entered my recommender’s contact information into the application and provided them with guidance on what is expected of them and when it is due.
- Yes/No – I have my undergrad and other transcripts handy.
- Yes/No – I have filled out the bulk of the information in the online applications.
- Yes/No – I have revamped my resume so it is appropriate to submit as one component of my applications.
- Yes/No – I can clearly articulate “Why an MBA?” in a 30-second elevator pitch, in a short answer, and in a 500-word essay.
- Yes/No – My short-term post-MBA goal includes an industry, function, and geography, and I have a few target companies in mind.
- Yes/No – I have attended events (webinars, coffee chats, virtual tours, and/or class visits) for each of the programs to which I am applying.
- Yes/No – I have engaged with students and/or alumni to identify resources that I want to leverage at each program as well as ways I can contribute to the classroom and the broader business school community.
- Yes/No – I have one or more people lined up to review my application materials.
If you answered “Yes” to all of these questions, you are ready to submit! If you have more “No” answers than “Yes” answers, then you should probably wait until Round 2. If you have a few “No” answers, think about prioritizing the programs to which you should apply in Round 1. Perhaps you can focus on those that have deadlines in October to give yourself more time. Alternatively, if you are working on improving your test score, you might submit applications in Round 1 to a few programs that have lower average test scores. Many schools will welcome an updated test score after you submit (Harvard Business School is not one of them!).
In the end, this is a very personal decision. You want to give yourself sufficient time to put together the best applications possible. If that means waiting a few months, then so be it. Your odds don’t change dramatically between Round 1 and Round 2, and you are better off submitting a stronger application later in the admissions cycle.
Need help assessing where you stand? Reach out to Stratus for a free consultation to discuss your profile and get guidance on application timing.