Read this article for guidance on building an MBA Application work plan for the period 3 – 6 until the deadline.
Your primary focus during this period is to start assembling three key pieces of your future business school application: your marketing strategy, your recommenders, and your resume.
Create Your Marketing Strategy
The key to creating an effective marketing strategy is a deep understanding of what the target customer values most. In business school application terms, this means understanding what MBA admissions committees look for when reviewing a candidate’s application. Most applicants understand some of the “buying criteria,” such as a high grade point average, a competitive GMAT score, and solid work experience. If you are applying to a top school, however, those three things are simply standard features, like a car having four tires, an engine, and a steering wheel. Your application marketing strategy summarizes how you plan to set yourself apart from the standard. At this stage in your preparation process, you need to identify your “points of difference,” the things that make you a candidate who is unique in ways that matter to admissions officers. Every time you interact with a school’s admissions representatives, you should be listening for signals about qualities they are looking for. This knowledge will help you to build a case that you aren’t just different, you are different in ways that your customer, the admission committee, will respond to.
Decide Who Will Write Your MBA Recommendation Letters
Because we know that marketers are wont to make all sorts of lofty claims about how their product is superior, we look to external reviews to separate fact from fiction. In business school application terms, the independent product reviews are the MBA recommendation letters. Admissions officers will place a great deal of weight on what these independent sources have to say about you. At this stage of the MBA application process, your goal is to chose your references wisely. Choosing your references is one of the most important decisions you will make. You want to chose recommenders that have insight into your strengths and abilities. Our advice is to start that decision making process right now. Sit down with each of your potential references and determine which of them is most likely to deliver the 5-star reviews you will need to stand out from the competition.
Prepare Your MBA Application Resume
Now is also a good time to begin crafting your MBA application resume. Your resume is a powerful opportunity to put the marketing strategy you developed into practice. On the one hand, your resume is as an executive summary of your academic and professional achievements. On the other, it is one of your first opportunities to spotlight the points of difference you identified as being central to your marketing strategy.
In summary, the period 3 – 6 months before the application deadline is the time to shape your strategy and to begin putting that strategy into practice in the form of your resume and reference letters. By taking these steps now, you will be able to devote the final months before the deadline to the all-important MBA application essays.