Many applicants to top business schools believe that there’s nothing for them to do until the applications are published, typically a few months before the submission deadlines. That’s good news for individuals who want to gain an edge in the competition for admission to select schools like Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and INSEAD. Yes, writing great essays is important. But there are a other aspects of the campaign that can take several months to address completely and convincingly. What are these early priorities for applicants to address starting today? 1. Cultivate potential recommenders. You probably have a good idea of who you’d like to prepare recommendations for your candidacy. A current or former supervisor, a mentor, a college prof, etc. However, stuff happens. Important people can get very busy unexpectedly or be difficult to contact. And, your proposed recommenders may not be as excited about and supportive of your MBA plans as you think they will be. And some may need time to get updated on your accomplishments and interests. So, it’s important to engage with them early enough that you can to confirm that they are the right choices and will help convince the adcoms about your value as an applicant. In fact, customized strategy and tactics for selecting and guiding recommenders is one key component of our Comprehensive Consultation. 2. Optimize your online profile. Admissions officers, interviewers, current students and alumni who you meet during the application process will try to learn as much as possible about your candidacy. While doing a basic Google search, the first place they’ll probably look is your LinkedIn profile. How professional is your presentation there? Would someone reviewing it feel that you’re a serious, accomplished and high-potential candidate for an MBA? Through our alliance with the social-media experts at Social Assurity, The MBA Exchange offers an array of valuable services. In fact, clients who sign up for a new Comprehensive Consultation before February 28, 2015, can get an assessment of their LinkedIn profiles ($175 value) at no additional charge. 3. Maximize your GMAT or GRE score. Achieving an above-median performance on the required, standardized test is a great way to improve your chances — especially if your undergraduate GPA is soft or your professional profile lacks rigor. Some applicants can crack the GMAT or GRE simply by reading prep books and taking practice tests. However, if you’re one of the many who feels the need for a professional tutor, then by all means get started. Not sure who to choose as a resource? The MBA Exchange has some excellent test prep options for your consideration. And, new clients who launch a Comprehensive Consultation before February 28, 2015 can receive a 30-minute prep session ($132.50 value) with one of our gurus at no additional charge. Or perhaps the issue for you is test anxiety. If you’re getting stressed by just thinking about the GMAT or GRE, then it’s time to connect with a resource like the licensed psychologist on our team. New clients who initiate a Comprehensive Consultation before February 28, 2015 can receive personalized, written guidance (a $200 value) from a professional who has helped MBA applicants improve their scores by 100+ points. 4. Anticipate background verification. As soon as an applicant is admitted to a top business school, but before he or she can enroll, the admissions office can request verification of any aspect of the application. This could include questions about past jobs, entrepreneurial ventures, titles, compensation, etc. So, if your profile is non-traditional, or might be difficult for the admissions staff to understand, you’d be wise to address that matter before you submit your app. Our CounterCheck Background Verification service is the ideal solution. And our resident expert can provide a 30-minute session on navigating through the verification process ($130 value) at no additional charge for new clients who initiate a Comprehensive Consultation with us before February 28, 2015. Any questions about these of other valuable steps you can and should be taking now? Just ask us. The MBA Exchange is here for you!