Once you have your list of target schools, you’re finally ready to start preparing for the actual application. You will need to plan how and when you would work on each of the application elements for each school. Putting together a robust application takes time and effort so be ready to work!
I usually start by drawing up a list of requirements for each of the schools in a schedule which looks something like this:
I like to put everything in one place so it’s easier for me to visualize and track what I need to get done for each school’s application.
Choose which application round you will target for each school. Consider what needs to be done for each application and how much time that would take. Be careful not to overload yourself. If you are an international applicant, plan to apply in the first or second round (most schools also advise this) to give you enough time to process visas and any additional requirements if you get admitted.
Initiate your online application for each school and start gathering your application materials:
- Dust off your CV/resume and start putting it in the right shape. Do the same for your LinkedIn profile.
- Request for your transcript if you do not have a copy. Most schools will require you submit a scanned/student copy at the time of application so make sure you have it available.
- Choose between the GMAT and GRE and set a test date. I wrote the GMAT, and at the time it was the more widely accepted/preferred test for business schools. Most schools accept both tests now. Whichever one you choose, ensure it is accepted across all your target schools. There are numerous resources online that can help you make a choice. Once you’ve made a choice, register and get your practice materials.
- Prepare to write an English Test if required, or request for an English Proficiency letter from your school. If any of your target Business Schools indicated a minimum score, ensure you score above that. You can usually find a lot of helpful material on the internet. If you need additional support, you can get a private tutor or register with a tutorial center.
- Decide on who your recommenders will be and reach out to let them know you will be needing their assistance. Take note of any specific requirements by your target schools on who your recommenders should be and make sure they qualify.
- Start sorting through your essay prompts. Which will you write first? What do you need? Are the questions similar?
- Take note of what makes each school unique and what they seek in candidates. This will be important in crafting your story and tailoring your application for each school. Do not “one-size-fits-all” your applications.
- Decide on whether you will be navigating the application process yourself or utilizing the services of a Business School application consultant. Although I have never used one, they can be useful for people who would like professional support on one or more aspects of their application. If you choose to go with one, ensure you conduct appropriate due diligence. Consider their track record/experience and reputation, ask them for references and check their success rates.
It is incredibly important that you understand the nuances of each of your target schools. What are they known for? What are their values and unique selling points? What makes one different from the next? Answering these questions will help shape the overall direction of your applications.
If you have questions, drop a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try my best to provide guidance or point you to appropriate resources.