6 Things that Stop the MBA Admissions Clock

by on September 22nd, 2017

If you who are reading this article you are probably bleary eyed, as the last minutes to submission deadlines are upon you. For some of you this may mean the light at the end of the tunnel, while for others it may mean a train is bearing down on you.

So as the light gets closer, here are some things to think about in the last moments:

1. It’s you, not them.

You may be tempted to have just one more person offer their thoughts on your essays or overall applications. Bad idea. Essays are creative pieces and aren’t there to give the reader the dry facts. As such, reviewers can always find something in an essay they don’t like. At this point, this is not helpful. So don’t bother getting any last minute opinions. Leave it alone. You don’t have time to disrupt the creative process or let your work be contaminated by what someone else wants to say.

2. It’s them, not you.

Remember in July when you asked your old boss for a recommendation? Remember how he said sure? Remember how you forgot to remind him of the deadline? Remember how you never saw a confirmation of his submission? Too late. Unless he is truly a saint, or owes you money, no one is turning around a recommendation in a matter of hours. At least you have plenty of time to remind him for next round.

3. It’s the little stuff that kills you.

Applying to “Colombia” or “Columbia?” It is the “Stanford Graduate School of Business” not “Stanford Business School.” Spelling errors and other “dumb mistakes,” generally mean a “fast pass to the ding pile.” It is not enough to avoid them just in the essays, but throughout the application. To check, before you hit the submit button, print out the entire application in PDF and go through it line-by-line. Not enough time to do this? Hope for the best.

4. It’s not just the essays.

Just as you are wrapping up the essays,you realize that there are more essays! As is the case with many applications, there are a series of “short answer” questions that are not so short. In fact, many of them require a sophisticated answer, “What would you do if you don’t get into business school?” “In 250 words, please share what your short-term and long-term goals are.” This is not something you want to write on the fly or when you are exhausted. Beware.

5. The application is online?

While most folks know you complete the application online, most don’t realize the volume of information that is required. Between adding in the simple stuff like your name, and uploading transcripts and test scores, and then those pesky little 5-word answers, the online application takes time to complete. And don’t forget good ‘ol bad luck. You wouldn’t be the first person unable to submit because of a faulty Internet connection or crashed computer. Plan for it.

6. This ain’t your work resume.

Are you submitting a new, polished resume specially crafted for business school or one from two years ago for when you landed your last job? If the answer is the latter, stop right there. The resume is a foundational piece of your application. If your resume is cracking, your whole application is falling down.

So what is your choice? Should you submit now or wait, polish the application, and submit for the second round? Just by asking this question, you probably know the answer: when in doubt, hold it out. The admissions process is so competitive today that you generally need a pristine application to be accepted. Anything short of that is not going to get you in. If you need more time to get the application as perfect as you can, then second round is the way go. Better this way, then getting run over by that train coming down the track.

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