MBA Preparation

Is it “too soon” to start your MBA admissions campaign?

January 18 2012 By The MBA Exchange
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If your answer is yes, then you’re missing a major opportunity.

Are you among the young professionals planning for an MBA who are currently thinking along these lines?
• “The new applications aren’t published until summer, so I’ll begin around July.”
• “I’m not applying until 2014, so why get started this year?”
• “I’m a really good writer. Three months will be plenty of time to complete my applications.”

Those are among the comments that we at The MBA Exchange hear from individuals who don’t yet understand or appreciate the realities of top-tier MBA admissions. In fact, the only good reason to postpone your business school admissions campaign is that you’re not convinced you’re ever going to apply. Otherwise, each week between now and the application deadlines offers valuable chances to make your eventual candidacy more competitive, compelling and successful.

So, how can the early bird gain an advantage over the procrastinators? Here are 5 ways that you can start to build your winning edge now:

1. Get to REALLY know the MBA programs
Most business schools do a good job these days of informing applicants about their offerings. The volume of official blogs, adcom Tweets, Facebook pages, email blasts, webinars, etc., can be overwhelming. If you’re considering several different MBA programs, following their online communications can be overwhelming. So pace yourself by spreading your research over time, tracking trends, and digging a little deeper than other applicants.

2. Make better decisions about jobs and activities
The period between college graduation and MBA application is critical to your candidacy. The company that you join, the role that you accept, the mentors you pursue, and the non-work organizations where you affiliate help define how you’ll look to business schools. If you take the time to understand what strengths and traits the top MBA programs value most in their students, then you’ll make choices that improve your chances for admission.

3. Initiate relationships with key influencers
Raising your profile with individuals who can endorse your MBA candidacy before you apply is a very worthwhile effort. However, getting the attention of anyone in a b-school community during the summer before you apply will be difficult. And then, during the fall before Round 1 and Round 2 application deadlines, first-year students are immersed in classes. Second-years are focused on recruiting. Administrators and faculty are fully engaged with current students.

In other words, if you wait until just a few months before you apply to make contact with key influencers, you will be too late. The period from February to April is ideal for campus visits. The campus is more relaxed and the weather is better for travel. As part of our Comprehensive Consultation, we guide our applicants on how and when to make and sustain contact with individuals who can directly impact your MBA chances. And don’t forget the significance of selecting and cultivating the best possible recommenders! What if the individuals you have in mind today decide that they can’t or won’t endorse your b-school candidacy? If you wait until a few weeks before the deadlines to approach them, you may not have any options. You need to develop a “Plan B” for cultivating other recommenders – and that takes time.

4. Reflect on your past and present before the future arrives
Scrambling to recall the details of your personal, academic and professional profile is very risky. In all likelihood, you’ll have to reach out to friends, family and former colleagues for specifics. Don’t wait. And don’t disregard the importance of goal setting. Every b-school wants to know your long-term and short-term career goals. By allowing time for online research, informational interviews and other exploration, you’re going to make a much more convincing case when describing your future plans.

5. Stuff happens: allow time to adapt and respond
There’s no way to predict when an unexpected change might accelerate or delay your MBA admissions plans. Health issues. Family problems. Company restructuring. New job offers. When such factors enter your life, you need to be ready. So, have your MBA admissions campaign thoroughly planned as early as possible. You can always modify your core plans, but having to start from scratch – while facing external pressures and distractions – is not a formula for admissions success.

Even if you get started today, you have less than 9 months until Round 1 deadlines for the best business schools. What’s the first step? We suggest a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy so you know exactly where to focus your time and efforts.

Tick, tick, tick!