For round one MBA admissions, what are the final steps I should take before submitting my application?
I've been working on my MBA application for some time now, and plan to submit very shortly in round one.
Before I hand in my final application, do you have any final tips? Is there anything candidates often forget to do?
This week's applicant question is answered by Melody Jones, co-founder of Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting.
It’s the beginning of September, and if you’re planning on submitting your MBA applications for the round 1 deadlines (the September to October deadlines for fall 2021 matriculation), congratulations on nearing the end of the process!
By now, you’re probably multiple versions into your essays, your recommenders are busy crafting your letters of recommendation, your resume is updated in the MBA format, and you’re starting to take note of all the loose ends you need to tie up before you click that nerve-wrecking “submit” button.
As an MBA admissions consultant, I know just how much goes into putting together a strong application and how important it is to keep up your energy and focus all the way through the finish line.
So, to help you in your final steps, here is my tried-and-true checklist to guide you as you put the finishing touches on your materials.
1. Don’t leave the online application to the last minute
The online data form (where you input your personal information, work history, and more) asks a lot of detailed questions that catch applicants off-guard every year.
You may want to be careful about how you answer the “reason for leaving” a previous job, for example.
Many schools, like Stanford Graduate School of Business, even include several short-answer essay questions in the application that may take some time to answer thoughtfully.
Not to mention that you have to complete new data forms for each school you apply to. Completing these forms often takes longer than applicants expect so start early and give yourself a chance to come back to it and make edits as needed before you finally click “submit”.
2. Compile your supporting documentation.
Most MBA programs ask you to upload supporting documentation, such as unofficial copies of your undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) transcripts and your unofficial GMAT or GRE score report.
Many institutions allow you to download these directly from their websites, but some may still require a written request and insist on sending hard copies.
I always advise my clients to take inventory of everything they’ll need to submit a complete application and take the necessary steps to get the documents early in the process. If you haven’t done this already, now would be a perfect time to get started.
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3. Make sure your recommenders get their letters in on time
This one can be a bit trickier to manage since you don’t have direct control over your recommenders’ actions.
However, most institutions won’t consider your application to be complete until your letters of recommendation are submitted and you don’t want to miss the deadline because of lack of communication with your recommenders.
So, in my experience, it’s important to stay on top of your recommenders and check in periodically on their timeline and make sure they don’t have any questions.
If you’re worried about one of them procrastinating, you could always provide an early deadline (ideally five days to a week before the actual deadline) to give yourself some peace of mind.
4. Ask a trusted friend, colleague, or family member to proofread
I’m always surprised by how easy it is to miss your own careless errors when you’ve looked at an essay 20 or more times.
But it’s not because you’re careless. Our brains are wired to generalize and derive meaning, and to do so as quickly as possible.
Because you already know the meaning of the sentences you have down on paper (because you’ve agonized over them for hours, days, and possibly months), it’s natural to jump ahead.
That’s why I always recommend asking someone else, ideally someone who has never read your application, to proofread everything for basic errors such as typos, punctuation, spacing, capitalization, and consistency.
The online data forms mentioned earlier often don’t have spell-check functions so it’s especially important to double check all your answers.
It would be a shame to have a small mistake detract from all the hard work that went into your application so enlist support to check your work. Just don’t let anyone start questioning your broader application strategy at the 11th hour.
Take a deep breath and have confidence in your process.
Most importantly, give yourself a pat on the back for getting this far. You’ve poured countless hours into your applications and you’ve done everything you can to put your best foot forward.
Have some faith, keep up hope for good news in the weeks to come, and have a drink to celebrate a big milestone!
Ask an admissions expert a question
Next week, you'll have the chance to ask Marjorie Diebolt, head of recruitment for Executive Education at emlyon business school, anything you want about getting into business school.
Marjorie has been in this role for just under four years, and worked at emlyon for three years before this as a training consultant for managers and executives.
She is an experienced manager with 15 years' experience in executive education, recruitment, and environment services in both France and Hong Kong.
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