This time of year, as the numbers of free consultations we perform steadily rise, we tend to hear one question a little more often than at any other time: “What can I do between now and early October to improve my chances?” We devoted an entire chapter of our Complete Start-to-Finish MBA Admissions Guide to long-term planning, so we certainly have ideas about what candidates can do to change and/or shape their MBA candidacy over time, but to tell the truth, you cannot do much in just a few short weeks to guarantee you will become a more compelling and exciting applicant.
Think of your candidacy as an ocean liner, rather than a schooner. You can quickly change course in a schooner, but an ocean liner takes far more time to turn. You have spent years creating your current profile—completing your undergraduate studies, studying for the GMAT, launching and advancing your professional career, volunteering (or not volunteering) in your community and pursuing (or not pursuing) personal goals. You cannot suddenly focus for eight weeks and quickly become something you are not—something you believe the school “secretly” wants you to be. And we have to ask, if a special eight-week fix actually existed that could rapidly turn any applicant into a school’s dream candidate, wouldn’t everyone already be doing it?
We don’t want to sound fatalistic, but to a large extent, your story is pretty much set at this point. So, if you don’t think you have a strong enough candidacy to successfully apply to your target school, you may want to spend the next year bolstering your profile. Or, if you still want to apply this year, get down to the hard work of telling your actual story to the admissions committee, sincerely and in as compelling a manner as possible. In other words, putting your best effort into offering a complete and accurate representation of your life and accomplishments is crucial, rather than trying to bolster your candidacy with window dressing.