6 Reasons You Need at Least 6 Weeks to Finish Your MBA Applications

It’s almost December, and in just a few weeks we will begin hearing from applicants with only a week or two ahead of their deadlines looking for last-minute consulting services.

Often, they’re too late to make significant improvements.  If you haven’t already started on your Round 2 applications, here are 6 reasons why it’s crucial to stop shaking it off to Taylor Swift’s new album and begin working on your applications today:

1. You can recycle surprisingly little among different schools’ essay questions.

Every year, we see clients who expect that they can write essays for one application and simply strip out the name of one school and insert the name of another.  This is especially tempting with the current trend in open ended questions.  Rachel, a member of our Ultimate Admissions Committee and Head Consultant from Wharton, says “it’s more important than ever to consider the culture and environment of the school.”  Admissions officers see thousands of essays every year, and they can spot a repurposed essay from a mile away. Applying to multiple schools takes time!

2. Significant school research is imperative to success.
Deciding on what business schools to apply to can be as emotionally charged as deciding if you’re Team Peeta or Team Gale, Team Swift or Team Spotify.  Except now you’re deciding between Team Harvard or Team Stanford and this will be a life changing decision with a significant financial component. The schools are looking for candidates who’ve approached business school with a mature and thorough decision making process.  In order to write impactful essays that also demonstrate fit, you will need to do more than check rankings and click through their website.  Effective research often includes conversations with current students and recent alums, visiting campus and attending info sessions, or at least diving into comprehensive resources like the  Veritas Prep Essential Guides. Lack of research leads to generic essays, which are not compelling to admissions officers.

3. Impactful letters of recommendation take time.
Your recommender is Team YOU and their  #1 job is to be your biggest cheerleader. Most recommenders, just like you, are busy people with their own professional and personal deadlines.  Many recommenders may even be tempted to have you write the recommendation.  However, recommendations written by you are never as strong as those written by the supervisor themselves.  To have an effective recommendation, you will need to spend time preparing a “cheat sheet” of accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses (all with examples) that will enable your recommender to write the recommendation themselves.  Nearly every school will ask your recommender to rate you on a number of attributes and so you want them to be well informed.  Every recommendation is different, so you must provide your recommenders plenty of time and support – they are helping you out!

4. Your essays require review from multiple people.
Applying to business school is not the time to lock yourself in a dark room, light some incense, and go at your essays alone.  Reaching out to a few friends who really understand the MBA admissions process or your Veritas Prep admissions consultants (or both!), and gaining multiple perspectives on your essays is incredibly valuable.  An informed outside reviewer can help you see that you’re not answering the question or they may have suggestions on how to tell your story more effectively.  But this process of seeking input and incorporating feedback takes time.  Be sure to reserve enough time to get at least a couple of different perspectives on each essay.

5. Introspection matters.

“The journey you take in applying to business school can almost feel like you’re baring your soul to a stranger, but taking the time to reflect on what makes you tick and being honest with your strengths and soft spots will always make a stronger and more compelling application.” – Kenyata, Head Consultant Chicago (Booth)
Perhaps the biggest mistake we see our clients make in their initial drafts of essays is that they are too generic. Admissions officers have your resume and see what you have done.  They are more interested in learning how you have made important decisions in your life, why you chose a certain path and what you have learned from your choices.  Dedicating time to the self discovery process is crucial to writing compelling and successful essays.

6. Short essays are more challenging than you think. 
Dozie, Head Consultant from Kellogg, tells his clients, “the shorter the essay the more each individual word will be scrutinized by the admissions committee, so make every word count!”  We’ve seen MBA admissions essays get much shorter over the years, but this isn’t necessarily something to celebrate because you think these essays will require less time.  Actually, the opposite is true. It becomes even more challenging to share interesting stories and differentiate yourself from other applicants in just 500-800 words.  Short essays require a lot of outlining and dedication to making every word significant.  Applicants first drafts end up being double the word count so be sure to leave enough time to decide what to cut.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Jennifer Nakao