6 Reasons You Need at Least 6 Weeks to Finish Your MBA Applications (i.e., Start Now!)

Each December, we hear from dozens of applicants just a week or two ahead of Round 2 deadlines who are seeking last-minute admissions consulting services. Often, they’re too late to make significant improvements, so we’re offering up to $1000 off admissions consulting services this week to get you started earlier! Here’s why it is so important to start now:

1. You can recycle surprisingly little among different schools’ essay questions.
Every year, we see clients who expect that they can simply do a “Find & Replace” function on their MBA applications, strip out the name of one school and insert the name of another. MBA applicants do this at their peril! Don’t wait until just a couple of weeks ahead of the Round 2 deadlines to start writing your essays for additional schools! Even questions that essentially ask for the exact same information (for example, “Why MBA, why now and why XYZ school,” will ask them in slightly different ways that require significant reworking. 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. Successful applicants do deep research on every school to which they apply.
Business schools just want to be loved. One of the key elements that admissions officers look for in an MBA application is evidence that the applicant has done an appropriate level of research and due diligence. Think about it: when you calculate forgone income, tuition, living expenses, GMAT and application preparation, travel, and other expenses, a full-time, 2-year MBA is likely the biggest personal financial decision in your life so far. It may be a half-million dollar decision for some people. The schools are looking for candidates who’ve approached business school with a mature and thorough decision making process, and this requires more than just checking out the rankings and perusing each website for some buzz words. Understanding how each program differs from its peer schools requires significant research, often including conversations with current students and recent alums, visiting campus, researching on blogs, 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. The best letters of recommendation take time.
Your recommender’s #1 job is to be your biggest cheerleader. Most recommenders are very busy people — they are supervisors and mentors to aspiring MBAs, who are usually very busy people themselves. Many recommenders will simply request the candidate to write a letter on their behalf and then they will approve and submit it. However, recommendations written by you are never as strong as those written by the supervisor themselves. Instead, you’ll need to prepare 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, plus answer some “mini essay questions” about you. Every recommendation is different, so you must provide your recommenders ample time to complete them! You don’t want to rush the people who are supposed to be your greatest cheerleaders!

4. Even the best writers should have their essays reviewed by more than one person.
Whether it’s a couple of friends who really understand the MBA admissions process or your Veritas Prep admissions consultants (or both!), gaining multiple perspectives on your essays will pay big dividends. Often, we think we’re being perfectly clear in our answers to the essay questions, but an informed outside reviewer can help us see that we’re not answering the question at all! Or another person may think of how to tell a story in your essays in a way that will really stick in admissions officers’ minds. However, this process of seeking input and incorporating suggestions takes time! The first idea that comes to your mind may not be the most compelling way to make your case to the Admissions Committee. Be sure you manage your time well enough to get at least a couple of perspectives on each essay and incorporate that feedback effectively.

5. Introspection matters.
Perhaps the biggest mistake we see our clients make in their initial drafts of essays is that they are too generic. Admissions officers can see WHAT you’ve done from your resume alone. They’re more interested in HOW you’ve made key decisions in your life, WHY you made those decisions, and WHAT you’ve learned from those choices and experiences. Most of us are so busy with the tasks of everyday life that we take little time for introspection and reflection on our life choices. Getting to this level of detail in your essays takes time, and is crucial to your success.

6. Short essays take a surprisingly long time to craft.
French philosopher Blaise Pascal is often quoted as saying, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” We’ve seen MBA admissions essays get much shorter over the years (this year, HBS has just two essays of 400 words each), and many applicants believe this will make their applicants quicker and easier. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Literally every word counts in such short essays. It becomes very difficult to get introspective, tell interesting stories and differentiate yourself from other applicants in just 800 words! A significant amount of time must be dedicated to outlining and crafting essays to make the most of your available word count. Many people will end up writing double the number of words in their first draft and will have to spend significant time deciding what to cut.

Take advantage of our November Admissions special and save up to $1000 off our MBA admissions consulting services! Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be setting yourself up for success in your applications. Call us at 1-800-925-7737 for details.