Are You Behind? Your Round 2 Application Plan

If you’re planning to apply to an MBA program (or multiple) in round 2, it’s ‘go time’! Ideally you already have a strong application strategy and personal brand that you’re leveraging to start thinking about how to approach one of the most critical and time-intensive aspects of the applications: the essays. If you’ve done this upfront work and are hitting the ground running right now, bravo! If you’re just starting, below is a suggested timeline for how to best use the next 10-11 weeks before the first deadlines hit.

Your 11-Week MBA Application Plan

For the weeks below, we listed what we would expect our clients to have completed or accomplished by the end of that week, give or take. Please note that by this point we expect that you have a GMAT score or firm test date already so that you can focus more on the actual application. If not, you can assume that GMAT prep is concurrent to the items below.

A few key notes:  we recommend at least five drafts of your resume (this small document is critical to your application) and at least 10 drafts of your first essay set. For each draft, we recommend getting feedback from a variety of different people – alumni of that school, co-workers, a consultant, and/or friends and family who know how the process works. You won’t know the background of the person reviewing your application, so it’s best to get multiple perspectives.

For context, many of our clients complete 10-20 drafts of each essay set, and normally we have 5-8 rounds of editing on a resume. The number of drafts doesn’t correlate with English skills, time spent or overall intelligence. Iteration makes for a better product, so we view drafting as part of the process of getting to success. Many people think better when they can react to something on paper, so getting pen to paper helps spur the creative process. Below we laid-out what this might look like at a minimum, but of course it varies by person.

For the week of October 25:

  • Application weaknesses (low GPA, light extracurriculars, etc.) have been identified and you are actively working to address / mitigate them
  • Well-defined personal brand and/or story that has been vetted by at least three other people for being personal, differentiating, interesting, and visionary
  • Schools researched and selected; virtual presentations attended or at least signed-up for
  • Resume drafts in process and being reviewed by someone other than you and your family (co-workers, friends, former classmates, consultant, etc)
  • Recommender packets prepared and meetings scheduled to explain the process and get them energized about your story and goals

November 1:

  • Resume finalized
  • Drafts for School 1’s essays complete and being reviewed by someone else for feedback on content, readability, and how well they address the key dimensions that the adcoms are looking for
  • Conversations scheduled with your MBA alumni friends to learn more detail about their experiences and programs so you have more context for your essays

November 8:

  • Second and third drafts completed for School 1’s essays with reviews by friends, family, co-workers and/or a consultant
  • First draft of School 2’s essays completed and being reviewed

November 15:

  • Continue drafting Schools 1 and 2 (as noted earlier, 10+ versions of essay set number 1 is normal; we generally see fewer iterations for subsequent schools)
  • First draft of School 3’s essays completed and being reviewed

November 22:

  • Check-in with recommenders to make sure they have a plan of attack
  • Second and third drafts of School 3’s essays completed and being reviewed
  • Continue drafting Schools 1 and 2

November 29:

  • First draft of School 4’s essays completed and being reviewed
  • Finalize School 1’s essays

December 6:

  • Start the application form for School 1 (completing the embedded mini-questions, determining how to leverage all of the space to maximize the information you share etc.)
  • Continue drafting on Schools 2 and 3

December 13:

  • Second and third drafts of School 4’s essays completed and being reviewed
  • Finalize School 2’s essays
  • Continue drafting on School 3

December 20:

  • Send your completed School 1 application to someone to review in entirety and provide feedback (optimally someone who knows about the process like an MBA alum, etc.)
  • Finalize School 3’s essays
  • Continue drafting School 4
  • Complete the remaining application forms for Schools 2-4

December 27:

  • Finalize School 4’s essays
  • Send your completed applications to alums or other reviewers for final checks and integrate feedback accordingly
  • Check-in with recommenders

January 3:

  • First Week of Deadlines!

I know what we’ve laid out seems intense…because it is. But trust us that this process is not the place to cut corners. Your competition isn’t and it takes a lot of work to stand out.

We are still accepting clients for Round 2 and are happy to talk about how we can help. Please request a consultation here.  


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