The road to your MBA can be complex
and sometimes confusing. To help keep you on track,
here's a calendar of what b-school applicants should be
doing, and when.
If you haven't already taken the GMAT – or
if you've taken it before but aren't happy with your
score – plan to take the test before you start working
on your applications in the fall. You'll have fewer
things to distract you from test preparation that way.
For information on registering for and scheduling a
test, visit the GMAC's website (www.mba.com). You are
also cordially invited to review our
GMAT prep section.
Are you unsure if you need a GMAT prep course? Call us at
1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and
Canada) to discuss your situation. We're here to help you!
School and Program Selection:
Define your most important search criteria
and use it to narrow down your school choices. If your top
priority is to begin a full-time MBA program next
fall, count on applying to several schools. There's no need to
apply to every school out there, but it's risky to apply
to just one or two, particularly given the jump in
application volumes this past year. The number of schools you
ultimately decide to apply to will depend upon how high
you rank a safety school and the time and resources you
have to work on applications. Depending upon your demographic, you may need to
seriously consider applying to a few more stretch
schools to maximize your opportunity for studying at a
You should already know what kind of
program you want to apply for: full-time, part-time, or EMBA.
Make plans to visit schools this fall
if at all feasible.
Call or write the schools to ask about scheduling a
Begin networking with current
students and alumni of your targeted schools.
Request copies of your college transcripts
for yourself. You'll use these to refresh your memory
about your school performance and decide how strong a
factor your undergrad record will be in your case for
If you have a low GMAT score and/or a low
GPA from college, think about building an alternative
transcript to demonstrate your academic qualifications.
Good performance in a suitable course can reassure
of your ability to handle MBA coursework.
Think about what you do outside of work.
Will those activities support your case for b-school
admission? Would you benefit from increasing your level
of commitment, or by getting involved in additional
groups or activities? (If you are applying for this fall,
however, beware of the perception of expediency that
might arise if you begin new commitments now.)
"It's a good idea to create a grid in which you match your stories to
the essay set for each school's application. This gives you a visual tool to see if you're properly communicating your positioning across the entirety of the application before you begin writing individual essays."
– Senior Admissions Consultant
Nicole Witt. Nicole earned her MBA at Cornell University's
Johnson Graduate School of Management, where she served on
the admissions committee.
Most of the top schools released
their applications and essay questions over the
summer. Download the forms (or bookmark the sites)
for the schools you are interested in.
Draw up a schedule of which schools you
want to apply to, and in what rounds. Note the deadlines that
you will have to meet. Be sure you can clearly
demonstrate a good fit with each school. Most likely,
this will require considerable customization from one
application to the next. Leave yourself adequate time to
prepare a strong application for each school and
understand the different tradeoffs at each school
between applying early or applying with a more
Start formulating story themes and
developing your most potent 'wow' factors.
Begin drafting your application
resume. In only rare instances should it exceed 2
pages and, more likely than not, it should be kept
to one page. Can an admissions officer quickly skim
your resume and understand the feasibility of your
post-MBA career goals? Did you succinctly highlight
your career progression? Remember that the target
audience for this resume is likely far different
than the recruiting audience for your industry.
Accordingly, be sure your resume is prepared in
accordance with a business school admission friendly
Select your recommenders. Will you
benefit from an additional, optional recommendation
to substantiate a story theme or 'wow' factor,
highlight your strengths, or, possibly, mitigate
your weaknesses? Can your selected recommenders
discuss your candidacy in adequate detail? Advise
your recommenders on which points they need to make
to best compliment your story. Writing up the points that you
want them to discuss is often a good starting point.
Our MBA Admissions Timeline
page will be updated on November 1.
Do you have questions about any of
the items you see here? Please call us at 1.800.809.0800
(+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and Canada)
or email us if
you do. Our consultants can help you with school
selection, application strategies, application and
interview preparation, and all other aspects of the
business school admissions process.