As many aspiring MBA students are wrapping up Round 1 applications or anxiously awaiting a coveted interview invite, perhaps you are wondering where to begin! Do not worry. If you use your time wisely, you can have several applications complete and ready to submit before January deadlines. Here is what you need to be doing in October to ensure you get there.
1. Create a Test Plan
If you already have a GMAT or GRE score that you are happy with, congratulations! If not, standardized testing could be your most important focus this month—or maybe not. As Business Insider reports, many schools have decided to waive the GMAT as an official application requirement in lieu of the novel coronavirus pandemic. If you are considering foregoing the exam, your first task must be to determine if your chosen programs require a standardized test score so you can prepare accordingly. If you do go the testing route, use this month to decide which test you will take—such as the GMAT or GRE—and schedule your 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. 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 toward your goals. Sign up for newsletters. Register for webinars. Create a short list of your top 19 MBA programs. Schedule virtual campus tours 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. In these unprecedented times, it may be difficult or impossible to invite them to lunch, go for a run, or play a round of golf on the weekend—but that does not mean you cannot nurture the relationship. Ask your recommender to join you for a virtual meeting (and each bring a cup of coffee)! Share your goals and get a sense of whether or not they will support you in your quest to get an MBA. Read our 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. Do your research. Enroll in a course that interests or excites you. You can also attend one of our free application webinars!
6. Get Busy Work Done
In between thinking deeply and studying for your standardized test, 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 reworking your business school resume.
7. Forget About Essays—For Now
Although MBA programs have released their essay prompts, do not let those distract you now. Focus on your high-level strategy and the narrative you want to share with the 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 us. 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.