Don’t miss the chance to submit your best MBA application! While the world has gotten a bit crazy, if an MBA is part of your destiny, if it’s part of your ideal career plan, then you owe it to yourself to give your application the best shot no matter what!!
That means you’ve gotta hustle for Round 2.
Check out the complete MBA Application Deadline List to understand what you’re gunning for.
Here’s our complete guide to finishing successful MBA applications in a time crunch. Whether you’ve got 3, 4, or 6 weeks to finalize your MBA applications, this timeline will get you across the finish line as efficiently and awesomely as possible.
Table of Contents
Let’s start with all the things you can do in Week 1 to move the needle and get yourself on the road to MBA success.
1. Choose the right schools and calibrate your profile using MBAmo
MBAmo should always be your first step in business school applications. Our MBA admissions calculator requires just a few data points to handicap your odds at various programs. Feed him your statistics and you will get a 20+ page customized report that tells you your general odds at your favorite school and provides detailed tactical guidance for strengthening your profile and addressing weaknesses proactively in your application.
You will absolutely love MBAmo’s guidance, so head over to the world’s best MBA odds calculator and get your report now.
Once you have it, dig deep into the details of how your profile stacks up with the expectations of your target business school. Understand where your strengths lie and what weaknesses you will need to proactively address in your application so you can show your best self even with a downside or two in your statistical profile. And don’t forget to try MBAmo on multiple schools so that you can build a portfolio of MBA schools to apply to that allows you to aim high while keeping your feet on the ground. Apply to some reaches, some matches, and some safeties to make sure you protect your downside risk while taking a shot at your favorite schools.
For comprehensive advice on how to target business schools that will add the most value to your specific career, read about how to choose the best MBA program for you.
2. Choose your MBA Admissions Consultant
Many people apply to business school without consultants. The people who work with us tend to really love their experience because we’re known for making our clients feel completely supported throughout the process and encouraging them to bring out their very best self in the MBA application through unlimited drafts and iterations of their application materials.
We’re experts in teaching you how to be your best self in all of your professional communication, and that is a skillset you will use forever!!! So if you want to enjoy the application process and maximize your chances of success, consider choosing us to be your MBA application advisors. We’d absolutely love to help you achieve your MBA dreams. Talk to us to learn more about what we do and how we help our clients achieve exceptional results. Mention this article in your MBA strategy session request form and we’ll zoom your call to the top of the list and try to speak with you within a day or two so you can make a quick decision.
Whether you work with us, or different MBA consultants, or no consultant at all, this is one of the very first decisions you need to make. Doing so will help smooth your journey, reduce your anxiety, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your entire process.
3. Set up your application profile with the school and start your research
Research will be essential to showing school fit in your MBA application.
Learn more about school fit in this video from our YT Channel:
Business schools really need to believe that you want to be in their program if you are to have even a chance at admission. This means you need to get to know each school you apply to intimately. Intimacy takes a little time, so you need to begin your research process as soon as you get your MBAmo report.
Check my summary of school research in the time of COVID-19:
Here are your priorities in your research:
- Set up your application, sign up for emails, and accept tracking cookies so the school can follow your progress as you get to know them.
- Follow schools on social media and engage. Get our complete list of MBA school social accounts, and follow even more of our tips for connecting with schools online.
- Register for and attend online events – at least 2 per school! And pay attention during them!
- Read student blogs, club webpages, adcom updates, and curriculum pages on the schools’ websites. Read all you can, especially about offerings most relevant to your goals.
- Reach out to students and alums and conduct informational interviews.
Plan to spend 2 hours per week on these tasks (3-4 hours if you are applying to more than 3 schools) and just make steady progress. Block off the time in your calendar and get to work. You won’t be able to cram with this step, so start now and make progress each week.
One more thing for Week 1: Be sure to order any transcripts (from your undergrad institution, masters, and/or continuing education certificates) and test score reports you will need in order to submit your final application!
4. Select your recommenders and set them up for success
Another part of this process that doesn’t usually cram well is the recommendations. Your recommenders need time to reflect and write amazing letters on your behalf, so make sure you give them ample time to complete that task. Decide on who your recommenders should be as early as possible and get them prepped to write those letters.
We spend a lot of time and energy supporting the recommendation part of your process if you choose to work with us. We help you choose the best people to write robust and diverse testimonials that complement your essays, then we help you prepare and coach them to do their best work. And finally, we review what they write to ensure they maximize the value they can pack into those tight letters.
But if you’re going this alone, start with our guidance on awesome MBA recommendations. And then feel free to share these two videos with your recommenders to help guide their writing:
Guidance for your recommenders: Strengths
Guidance for your recommenders: Feedback
OK, if you did all of that in Week 1, you are well on your way to an amazing MBA application. Now begins the process of introspection that will inform the foundational pieces of your application: your essays, resume, short answers, and – most importantly – your interviews.
This step is so important that we really recommend you not begin the essay stage until you have completed it in isolation. The essays will need at least 2 or 3 full weeks of iteration, so if you are working against a timeline of one month or less, you may want to move the discovery process up to Week 1 to allow plenty of time to iterate on your essays in Week 2.
5. Complete an in-depth self-discovery process
Please do not skip this step. It’s very easy to jump into the MBA essays and start contorting your story around what you think the school wants to hear. But as I say in almost every MBA article I write, that is the losing-est strategy you could possibly employ.
The key to making the admissions committee fall in love with you (which is your best bet to gaining admission in a competitive season and overcoming any weaknesses you might have) is showing them your authentic best self. This is why we call our process the Authentic MBA Application Package. Genuine, inspiring human beings get into business school. Panderers land in the ding pile with all the other undifferentiated, boring candidates who failed to create a distinct and lasting impression on MBA application readers.
The key to showing your authentic self in applications is increasing your self-knowledge and self-awareness through the discovery process. Our discovery process is truly in-depth. Our clients rave about it. To get your own discovery process started.
6. Develop your Career Game Plan
Two thirds of discovery is about mapping and understanding your past and how you came to be the person you are. The final third is about projecting the person you want to be into the future and describing a robust and concrete game plan to achieve the professional growth and impact you want to have throughout your career.
It’s critical you nail your MBA goals and make them goals you genuinely care about.
They also have to be goals that you can actually achieve through your MBA:
Make sure you’ve got all 4 pieces of your career game plan nailed down:
- Your inspiring long-term career vision
- Your medium-term post-MBA and internship goal
- Program selection: your MBA program needs to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be post-MBA
- Short-term tactics: these include company research and any informational interviews you need to do before your MBA interview to show you are well on the path to your post-MBA goals
Check out our complete guide to MBA recruiting to help make your game plan more real and tangible.
I recommend you take a full week on discovery and resist the urge to move ahead with any other part of your application until it’s complete. If you’ve explored all your past experiences, defined your core values and ambitions, and mapped your career game plan, then you are ready to move on to the essays. I promise that taking your time on discovery will increase your efficiency in all the later steps of your MBA application process.
Week 3 and Beyond
7. Craft those MBA essays
The essays are the very best part of the application, and – unlike the resume and short answers – they really can’t be crammed into a single long-weekend sprint. Like fine wine, essays need time to breathe, evolve, and mature as you work through multiple iterations.
In our Authentic MBA Application Package, the essays are an extension of the discovery process we complete with our clients. Through each draft, we aim to help deepen your self-awareness and refine the way you communicate who you are to the world so that your story touches the reader’s emotions, inspires her, and shows you in the very best light possible.
Needless to say, even working on your own, you aren’t going to achieve that in a single draft. So be sure to leave ample time for writing and rewriting. If you work steadily every day, you could complete the essays for even a handful of schools in two weeks. Most people need more time than that, though, so plan to get started on those essays as soon as you complete discovery.
8. Perfect your MBA resume
Your MBA resume is INCREDIBLY important!!! Please don’t take the fact that it is low on this list as a sign of low priority. No. In fact, the resume is one of the most important parts of your application. It is where you will communicate all your personal achievements, your awesomeness, and your MBA readiness. For some schools, the content of your experience to date will drive a huge percentage of their decision on your candidacy.
It is essential that you have an amazing MBA resume that showcases your professional track record of success, your excellence, and your finest achievements. It’s so low on the timeline because it is one part of the application that crams fairly well if you’re in a pinch.
The Last Week
Take as much time as you have to work on those essays. If you have 4 weeks, they should take 2-3 of those weeks. If you have 6 weeks, they should fill 4-5 weeks. Once your essays are nearing a stage of excellence, you can start tying off loose ends and getting that application ready for submission.
9. Fill in the short answers in the online application
The short answers that are part of every MBA application are more tedious than they are tough. Schools ask questions about your jobs, promotions, salaries, and bonuses; your parents and alumni friends; your motivations, achievements, awards, and challenges. Every school has their own cocktail of questions.
Harvard’s HBS and Stanford’s GSB are notably the most onerous, with Stanford including up to 5 mini essays in those short answers. If you’re applying to Stanford, address these baby essays as part of your overall essay brainstorming process so as not to overlap with the content of your primary essays. For the rest of your schools, you can save this step of the process till the last week.
Be thorough, pay attention to details, write complete and thoughtful responses, and do your very best on any questions that require thought. Do not copy and paste resume bullets in here even if there seems to be overlap. Address each question directly and succinctly. Be sure to save your work as often as possible!
10. Finish off the final application details and submit!
Once your MBA application is locked and loaded, your resume is perfected and PDFed, your essays are proofread, formatted correctly, and PDFed (or pasted into the relevant text boxes, depending on how the school manages the essays), then it’s time to get ready to submit. Here’s your final application checklist to make sure you are ready to go:
- Recommendations submitted
- Short answers completed
- Resume uploaded
- Essays uploaded
- Transcripts uploaded
- Video interview prepped (if relevant)
- Application fee ready to be paid
Be sure to investigate whether your target school requires additional video essays as part of the application. Kellogg, Yale, and a handful of other programs have a video essay component that requires you to immediately (or within a week of submission) respond to a couple of video essay questions.
If that’s the case, do your research and prepare for the known questions before you hit submit. You also want to be in the right mindset to improvise when the time comes to do your video essay (since you want your responses to feel natural rather than canned or memorized).
Here’s how to get camera ready for your MBA interview.
That’s it y’all!!
And don’t forget to talk to us at Career Protocol if you want to make the whole thing more fun, less stressful, and way more awesome.
Let’s have a conversation!
Next step: Head over to our MBA admissions calculator, MBAmo.
Get your customized school odds and strategy report & kick off your MBA application sprint!