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Tips for Round Two Business School Applicants

Get It In and Get Accepted

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If you are applying to top MBA programs in this year, hopefully by now you are well on your way to completing your applications. With Round 2 deadlines at most top business schools coming in early January, and Round 3 statistically being a long shot at many schools, now is put up or shut up time for most MBA applicants this season.

So, what does that mean for you? Here are a few things that you should have done by now:
  • Identified your target schools - Hopefully you did this a while ago! But by now you should definitely know which business schools you are targeting this year. And, ideally, you are targeting no more than four or five schools (the less time you have, the less ambitious you should be).
  • Written first drafts for most of your essays - This especially goes for your “Why MBA?” essay and career goal essays, which are the backbone of most applications and are fairly consistent from one application to the next. We recommend writing your first drafts and leaving them aside for up to ten days, then coming back to them and looking at them with a fresh pair of eyes. For shorter MBA essays that deal with peripheral topics, getting started so early isn't as urgent, but you should plan on letting all of your essays sit for a week or so - one more reason not to cram!
  • Achieved your target GMAT score - You're allowed to take the GMAT right up until the application deadline, as long as you get the scores in on time. But the problem with cramming for your GMAT in December is that the rest of your application will probably suffer. Your goal should be to achieve your target GMAT score and then put the GMAT out of your mind while you focus on the rest of your application.
  • Given your recommenders plenty of time - I put this one last in this list, but MBA letters of recommendation prove to be a stumbling block for many otherwise successful applicants. Too often applicants sweat out the last 48 hours right up until a deadline, as they wait for their recommenders to finish their letters. Be very clear up front about when you will need your letters of recommendation, and be sure to give your recommenders at least several weeks to write them. Remember that they’re busy people, too!
Note that some top business schools are on a four-round system, including UC Berkeley (Haas), UCLA (Anderson), Carnegie Mellon (Tepper), and Cornell (Johnson). For these schools, there is much less urgency to get in by Round 2. However, these schools time their rounds differently, and Round 3 may still come by early January, depending on the school. Also, if you are an international applicant or plan on applying for a fellowship, many schools require that you apply by the January deadline. As always, check your target school’s web site for specific info on that school’s deadlines. Good luck!

Written by Scott Shrum, co-author of Your MBA Game Plan. Visit Scott on the web and get more MBA admissions advice at www.mbagameplan.com.

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