You may think that starting the application process six months before your application due date is a bit, well, excessive. After all, there’s no way a single application should require THIS much time to fill out! And yes, when it comes to filling out the boxes and writing your essays, you’d be crazy to sacrifice months and months of your time; but there are other important steps to the application process that are better completed early. And you’ll find that if you complete them earlier rather than later, you’ll actually end up saving on time and energy come next fall.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say in November you realize that your community service experiences are a bit weak. At that point, you’d be hard-pressed to find the time to cram in more shifts at the soup kitchen—plus, the adcoms will clearly see that your bulked up experience is last minute. Therefore, now would be a much better time to evaluate your profile and see what’s lacking (like community service hours) so that you can more naturally add to your experiences, consequently making for a more impressive profile.
Here are some other suggestions for early planning for your MBA application:
1. Take the GMAT
True, you may opt to retake the GMAT in the fall or next winter, but that should only be as a last resort. You’ll have a clearer idea of where you should apply and the school research you’ll need to do if you have your GMAT scores early. Also, if you don’t perform as well as you had expected, you may choose to take additional courses to build your quant or verbal skills.
2. Start thinking about what’s important to you in an MBA program
Keep a running list of more important and less important features, including deal breakers. A very important feature may be “friendly to older applicants.” A less important feature may be “bustling urban campus.” A deal breaker may be “must be able to fly home in under an hour to tend to my aging father.”
3. Visit schools now!
Take advantage of the fact that b-schools are in session now and that you’re not swamped with the last-minute writing and editing of your applications. You will probably have more time now than you will in the fall, plus early visits will give you more time to reflect on your campus experience and determine if you are a good fit with the potential schools on your list.
These are just a few examples of the early steps you should take when applying to b-school next year. For more tips on MBA application readiness, check out Accepted.com’s popular ebook, Best Practices for MBA Admissions, on sale until March 31 (2 days from now) at 20% off.