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The deadline for MBA applications are here and you want to make sure that you get everything done in time– all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed – before you hit “Submit”. Well, whether you’re just getting started or checking over all your work, we’ve got a stress-free Application checklist that will help you ensure you’re sending out your best material:
1. Don’t leave everything to the last possible moment. You’ll be stressed out, rushed, and far more likely to make mistakes.
2. Check in on your recommenders. Don’t forget, this is a busy time of year for everyone! You don’t want your recommendation to get lost in the shuffle, or for them to rush it and give you a generic, sub-par recommendation. Give them a quick “brand recap” when you reach out, so they have an easy-to-access reminder of the message you’re trying to convey with the rest of your application. If possible, try to get your recommenders to submit a couple of days before the deadline.
3. If you’re able to take time off of work between now and the application deadline, do it. Nothing else is more important than getting into the best school you can, and you won’t be sorry to have the extra time. If you can’t take time off from work, cut out everything extraneous you can. It can be a hard sell during the holidays, but a couple of days of buckling down will be worth it in the long run.
4. If you’re applying to multiple schools, don’t jump from application to application. Finishing one before you move on to the next will give you a sense of accomplishment, and keep you from having to push multiple applications to the next round if you run out of time.
5. Have your basic application answers ready in a word document, so you can pull from there for each application. You don’t necessarily want to do a straight copy and paste, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
6. Get your “big rocks” out of the way by starting with the application for the school with the highest number of essays, or the most challenging questions. Planning to apply to INSEAD, with their nine different essay questions? Get those out of the way early in the process, while you still have the energy to think.
7. Look for ideas and examples you can recycle. I can’t emphasize enough: DO NOT just copy and paste your answers! But the brainstorming and thinking that went into your answers can (and should) be re-used. Fuqua and Wharton are both team-oriented schools, and both have essay questions asking about how applicants will contribute to the school’s community. Your thoughts about why a close-knit MBA community matters to you and examples of how you have actively engaged in communities in the past will be relevant to both schools. But you also need to pay attention to the differences in how each school approaches the issue, so that you can tweak your answers (and include club or activity specifics) to be relevant for each school.
8. Don’t forget about self-care. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, taking your vitamins, etc. A foggy, sleep-deprived brain is not a brain that is capable of creating stellar MBA application materials.
9. Have a support system in place to help you if you’re stressed out, struggling to finish, or suffering from anxiety. If you’re working with an MBA admissions consultant, reach out to them! This is exactly what they’re there for, and they will almost certainly have extra tips or soothing words for you. If you’re not working with an admissions consultant, find a friend or a loved one who can be your champion. Application season can be a tough time, but it will be much easier if you’re not trying to go through it alone.
10. Once you’ve gotten everything done for your application, check each part over for errors. Have a friend check it over, if possible. Check it over a final time the next day, and then – you have to let it go. Don’t let anxiety keep you from submitting on time! It’s hard to “let go” of something you’ve been working on so hard for so long, but once it’s done, it’s done.
Once all your applications have been submitted, all that’s left to do is put it out of your mind until the decision deadline rolls around. And since that’s about as easy to do as not thinking about elephants once someone has mentioned them, here’s a bonus tip for saving your sanity: stay off the MBA forums!
Don’t drive yourself crazy thinking of everything you could have done, or written, differently, or comparing yourself to other applicants you’ve made up in your mind. Focus on your friends and family, and continue pushing yourself at work. Read some success stories if you think they’ll boost your spirits. Give yourself the gift of getting business school off your mind – until you get your interview decision.
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