Last Minute MBA Application Advice for Round 1

HBS, Wharton, and Stanford MBA deadlines are fast approaching for Round 1 and Angela Guido is here to make sure those MBA applications are as perfect as they can possibly be before the big day. We’ll be dotting I’s, crossing T’s and generally making sure that there’s no part of that MBA application package that’s letting you down (or worse, missing!) as we race towards the finish line. Good luck!

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

I'm giving you this task at T-minus one week because in many cases, they're substantial, and if you cram them at the last minute, you're going to be freaking out, you're not going to be able to focus, and then you run the risk of getting caught in the last-minute submission cluster. Hello, everyone. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, the world's best destination for no-nonsense advice on how to advance your career and apply to business school while having fun and achieving your dreams in the process. You have arrived at MBA Monday, and since there is very little time left before your Round 1 deadlines, I'm here to help you finish those applications strong.

This is MBA Monday. I said that already. Yes. MBA Monday. It is August 29, 2022. That means if you are applying to Harvard, you have a grand total of nine days to finish your applications. Same for Wharton. If you're applying to Stanford, you've got one extra week. I'm looking at our handy dandy deadline sheet. Did you know that on our website we have all the deadlines in one place in one page? We've linked to it here so that you can bookmark it and watch that clock tick feverishly as all of the deadlines approach. For most other US schools and most other European schools, you've got a little more time. So the advice I'm going to give you today is all about how to finish your application. Strong to be able to hit submit and feel super confident that you did your very best.


Make Sure The Essays Inspire You

All right, first thing you want to do, really make sure that the essays you have written inspire you. It's incredibly, incredibly, incredibly important that when you hit submit on your stories, you feel proud of the person that is being depicted in those essays. This is our goal with all of our clients. When they submit their applications, what they can frequently say to themselves is the following: “That application, that story, that package that I submitted, that's me. That's my very best self. And if that school decides they don't want the person depicted in that application, I'm actually okay with that, because that's really the best I have to offer. That's who I am.”. That's how you want to feel about the applications you're submitting. If you read those essays in the home stretch and you feel like, “Ah, I followed the advice that I got, but I just don't like it. I don't like this essay. I'm not proud of it. I wouldn't show it to my friends as a representation of who I really think I am.”, then your work is not yet done. There's a ton of advice on our channel and on our blog about how to tell an inspiring story. You might want to check out our MBA Storytelling Master class linked here, because in that hour-and-a-half-long session, I am sharing all of our best tools and tips about how to tell your best story in your applications. It's a free session. Check it out.


The T’s & I’s

T is for “Try to hurry your recommenders”. I is for “I should start the online application” So now let's assume you've done that. You've written stories that really inspire you. Your application represents you in your very best version of who you are. Now it's time to close the loop on all the details and hit submit. So you've got about one week left for some key deadlines. When you're at T-minus one week, there are two things you want to be doing. First of all, you need to follow up with all your recommenders and make sure that they have done their job. Make sure that they have already submitted their recommendations. If they haven't, this is the moment to chase them down and make sure that they do it. Your recommenders need to submit the recommendations, you can't do it for them, and most schools will be pretty sticklerish about this. So, if you've submitted your whole application and there's a recommendation outstanding at the deadline, some schools will say, sorry, your app is not complete, we're going to move you to the next round. Most schools will give you a teeny tiny grace period for your recommenders to get their testimonial in. But you really don't want to be in that position. I promise you, that is a heart attack you do not need. So take this last week to chase down your recommenders and make sure that they have submitted their testimonial.

The second thing you want to be doing in this last week, if you haven't started it already, is complete the online application form for each of your target schools. And if you haven't already started this — actually, it's probably best if you have — but if you haven't already started this, what you're going to find is that there are a lot of hidden questions. Especially the higher-ranking schools have many little questions that you need to answer about your work experience, about your family, about your background, about your grades, about your salary, about your bonus. Lots and lots of details that they need you to fill in, because frankly, most people's resumes suck. That's why they have all these extra questions, because they can't always get the information they need from the resume and they want to make sure that they're giving you a fair shake. So if you have a killer resume, great. If you don't, please find the videos on our channel and perfect your resume. But even if you do, you need to give these online answers a really solid attempt. General advice is that the short answers are more tedious than they are challenging. For the most part, your general impulse about what you should be putting in those answers will usually be right. You don't want to regurgitate your resume. If they're asking you to describe an accomplishment you want to add new information to your profile. But just really take your time and be thoughtful about answering all of the online questions. I'm giving you this task at T-minus one week because in many cases they’re substantial, and if you cram them at the last minute, you're going to be freaking out, you're not going to be able to focus, and then you run the risk of getting caught in the last-minute submission… what's the word I'm looking for… cluster? Where quite possibly the school's websites will crash because everybody is submitting at the last minute. So when you reach T-minus one day, if the deadline is September 7th, I actually recommend that you submit on September 5th or September 6th so that you can be sure that you're getting it in without hitting the last-minute time crunch that has screwed many people in the past. Usually when the school's website crashes at the last minute, they'll extend the deadline by 24 hours so that everybody can get their application in. But again, that's a heart attack that you don't need. So at T-minus one day, that's the moment to hit submit.


Polish Everything

Every school is different. Now what are you going to do in the week between when you follow up with recommenders and start the short answers and submit? The five or six days intervening is where you want to really perfect the last-minute details of your application. So what I recommend you do is print out your essays and before you do that, be sure to format the essays in the way that the school requests. Different schools have different ways they want you to format it. Some people say it has to fit on one or two pages. Stanford, for example, wants you to double space all your essays. Harvard doesn't really care. It really depends on the school and in many cases you're going to upload a document, in other cases you're going to copy and paste your essay into a text box. That's the case with Wharton, for example. And if you are even one word over pasting your essay into that Wharton box for your essays, it will cut your essay off. So this is the time to make sure that all of your essays are under the recommended word count if they need to be and that they're formatted correctly. Do this at least three days before the deadline, because the last thing you want is to be copying and pasting your essays and figure out that it's twelve words too long and now you've got to scramble to cut twelve words at the very last minute. Don't put yourself in that situation. So in the last few days, make sure your essays are at word count, format them the way the school wants them if they specify, then print them out and read them out loud. When you do it like this, you're going to catch any typos or grammar anomalies or misspellings. When you read out loud, you tend to catch things that you didn't notice while you were just like, typing away at your computer. So do that, make any last-minute corrections, tie the essays off, make sure that you are in love with them and that they're formatted perfectly and error free, and then in the remaining days, go ahead and upload them, paste them into the chat box, save the application, make sure to save it, get everything ready to go. And then you might give it another day or two before you finally hit submit to just make sure that everything is right. You might want to do one last double check. I kind of think you want to upload it and submit it and be done with it, because chances are you're just going to drive yourself crazy in the interim. If you've already checked all the details, it's probably ready to go, but you decide if you want to upload it and wait, or upload it and submit.


Believe In Yourself!!

Okay, but that's the curriculum for your last week. Follow up with our commanders, start the short answers, tie up all the details, perfect all the last-written aspects of your application, and hit submit at least a day before the final deadline. I want to talk about one last thing, a very important thing that you need to do in the home stretch, and that is believe in yourself. This is the moment where nearly everyone requests whether or not they're worthy to be applying to business school. Self-doubt sets in at critical moments in our life. That moment when you are about to hit submit is going to make you feel quite nervous about yourself. Even if you love your essays, even if you love your application, the moment before you hit submit, or the moment after, you're very likely to have a tremendous surge of self-doubt. This is the moment to remember the words of the great Buddha: All fear is illusion. In this moment that you’re afraid for your future, remember, it's not real. You're great. You did a great job on your application. You have an inspiring future ahead of you. Some school will see that and believe that and want you in their program. If you've done everything that you can do to create an amazing application, to inspire about your future and to cross all the T's and all the I's, you should feel very confident in who you are and in the application that you're submitting. So just remember, believe in yourself and proceed. The entire Career Protocol team and I are rooting for your success. Best of luck submitting those applications, and I'll see you in the near future.

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Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder of Career Protocol

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