Sprint or Marathon: How will you run your race to the MBA application deadline?

There’s only a month left until Round 2 deadlines at most top-tier business schools. Even if you haven’t started preparing your applications, it’s very tempting to go for it. After all, your work experience isn’t going to change over the next 10 months. Your undergrad GPA can’t be improved. Your GMAT score is decent. Your personal activities are what they are. And you’re only getting older. So, you might as well make a dash for it, right? Ready, set….

Not so fast. The reality is that a hastily prepared application that presents a good but not great candidacy is not likely to impress the admissions committee. They don’t care that you’re rushing to apply because of how busy you’ve been with work and other activities. The ad comm will you judge based on what you present and compare you to other applicants who worked on their apps for months.

Why not just lob in an application in January and see what happens? You can always reapply in October, right? Well, by submitting an imperfect or incomplete app now that’s likely to fail, you’ll be “anchoring” your candidacy in the eyes of the business schools. The opportunity to actually improve your positioning and presentation in the future will be constrained by what you’ve told them about yourself in the original app. And yes, they will check back.

So, why not apply in Round 3 this coming spring? That’s certainly an option as b-schools like to add diversity to the incoming class by cherry-picking admits at the end of the application season who complement those applicants already accepted. However, the more selective and prestigious the school, the higher the yield, so only a few seats will remain available after Rounds 1 and 2. Furthermore, in terms of reapplication strategy, a Round 3 applicant is sending a message to the admissions committee that attending their program was not a passion or priority the first time around.

Your goal is not just applying, it’s getting accepted! With that in mind, as you consider running a “sprint” to the January 2012 deadline rather than a well-planned marathon to October deadline, ask yourself these 5 questions:

Over the next 10 months, could I:

  1. Elevate or expand my professional profile by initiating a new project or solving a lingering problem?
  2. Improve my academic profile by earning an “A” in an extension course or adding 20 points to my GMAT score?
  3. Strengthen my personal profile through some international travel or a leadership role in an organization?
  4. Deepen my relationships and raise my profile with current members of the b-school community?
  5. Distinguish my post-MBA goals through more extensive research, conversation and reflection?

If your answer to at least 3 of those questions is yes, then make the smart choice. Approach your MBA admissions campaign as if it was a marathon, not a sprint. Planning, training, preparation, and perfection are possible only if you allow yourself the time to do so. And if having an expert coach could help you do your best, that’s why The MBA Exchange is here. Start your “race” to business school admission today with our free evaluation of your MBA candidacy.