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Timing is Everything: The Ideal Time to Apply to Business School

Congratulations! You’ve decided that you want to pursue your MBA. Staying organized and on schedule are the keys to having everything in place before the application deadlines approach. But how do you know what to do and when to do it?

Now is the time to get started! There is still a lot you can do between now and next year’s Round 1 deadlines to improve your chances of admission to b-school. By preparing now you’ll be able to apply to more programs earlier and change your Round 2 strategy if necessary. Also, when you apply early there are more seats and financial aid available. However, your application has to be of the highest quality whenever you apply, so don’t rush!

Here’s what you should be doing now to assure that you have the best possible app at the earliest possible date.

1. Start your GMAT prep.

If you haven’t already taken the GMAT, this is the time to prep and take the test, preferably in the spring. Choosing schools without knowing your score leads to unnecessary stress. Taking the test early will give you time to evaluate your score and see if it’s in the range needed for the schools you want to get into. If not, you will still have time to retake the test, reevaluate your target schools, or both. Taking the GMAT early will allow you to focus on the rest of the application process.

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2. Do your school research.

Now is the best time to visit schools – when classes are in session. You’ll get to see the professors and students in action and get a feel for the campus. This will help determine your fit with each school. A school may be perfect for you on paper, but if you don’t hit that “fit” factor, then it’s not the best match. During this research phase, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re competitive at the program and that it supports your goals.

3. Check your academic record.

Review your record to look for potential weaknesses. Now is the time to take appropriate classes – and ACE them! This will show the adcom that you are able to excel academically.

4. Think about your recommenders.

If you don’t know who to ask, now is the time to consider your various options and possibly raise the subject with people who can write you a strong recommendation. Be sure they see you in positive situations to ensure an amazing letter.

5. Pay attention to leadership.

Whether or not you have a formal leadership role in school or work, you can always find ways to become an informal leader. The more the better – you can never have too much leadership in an MBA app. If there’s not enough space to write about it in your essays, be sure to include it in your resume.

6. Think about your goals.

What can you say about your goals – your planned industry, company function – that is interesting? Now is the time to read books, journals, and company reports. Talk to people. In less than 10 minutes, with good questions, you can get informative, instructive information that will make your essay stand out from the others.

7. Finalize your resume.

Now is the time to get 95% of your resume done. You can adjust it for new developments along the way. It’s good to have this ready if you have the opportunity to visit a school or meet with an adcom member earlier than you’d planned.

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Need more help determining where you are, where you’re going and how to stay on track? Download our free guide, MBA Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 Months Before You Apply.

Ready to get an awesome GMAT score? Start here.

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