“Too late” to start Round 2 MBA admissions campaign?

The sooner you begin your admissions campaign, the better your chances for admission. However, with the next application deadlines just a couple of months away, it may not be too late for you to start on the path to success.

Here’s a simple, 6-point checklist from The MBA Exchange to help you decide whether or not to apply in Round 2:

1. Are you comfortable with your target list of schools?
Identifying which schools are the best match for your background and goals is essential. Include only those MBA programs that you would gladly attend if it was the only one to offer you admission. If you’re still not sure where to apply, seek the input of an experienced admissions consulting firm.

2. Are your current GPA and GMAT or GRE score competitive?

Having college grades and a test score that are below what a given school has historically considered to be “acceptable” means that school is a long shot for you. With limited time to improve your candidacy AND produce a stellar application, you might want to choose a different target. However, even with just a few weeks until the deadline there are some guerilla tactics that can help bridge the gap. For instance, we advise our clients about test prep resources and online college courses that can mitigate past performance.

3. Have you communicated directly with students, grads and administrators?

Not only do such conversations help confirm whether a school is the right fit for you, they also provide potential content for essays and interviews. It doesn’t take more than a few such interactions to add value – and it’s easier than you may think.

4. Are your recommenders committed to supporting your candidacy?
Start by choosing the right recommenders, then provide them with appropriate guidance to ensure that their input to the schools complements and reinforces your application. We help our clients on selection and direction during the “analysis & planning” component of our comprehensive consultation.

5. Have you identified a realistic yet challenging post-MBA career goal?
Admissions committees want to know why an applicant is pursuing an MBA and how this education could enable him or her to achieve that objective. This can be difficult for some candidates, especially if they’re rushing to apply in the next round. Having the guidance of an objective, savvy admissions consultant can help you identify and convey an authentic, credible post-MBA goal that differentiates your candidacy and resonates with adcoms.

6. Do you have a clear sense of your relative strengths and weaknesses as an applicant?

You need to anticipate how the admissions committee will view your application compared to those of your competitors. Spotting hidden gems and red flags before you apply can make a world of difference in your admissions outcome. The fastest way to do so is with a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy by a professional admissions consultant. This can also help you decide whether the guidance and support of the consultant would benefit you for the entire admissions campaign.

If you answered “yes” to at least 4 of these 6 questions, then Round 2 timing could be appropriate and achievable for you. But don’t be discouraged if that’s not the case. This just means you should extend your admissions campaign to a future round so you can confidently apply to even more selective schools with a better chance for admission.

Either way, unless you start your campaign now, you’ll be wasting more time and find yourself – a year from now – with the same dilemma you face today. Tick, tick, tick!