If you’re applying to bschool this season, you need to be working on SOMETHING. It does not matter what stage you’re at. Unless you’ve already been accepted (congrats to successful Columbia and Duke BSers!), there is always more to be done.
In this case, at our end-of-October stage of life, there’s LOTS more.
If you’re a Round 1 applicant who’s been invited to interview
You should be doing interview prep, and school research. Your research should be primarily focused on the school(s) you’re interviewing at, though you might also want to expand that to potential Round 2 schools, depending on how many interview invitations you’ve collected and the number of Round 1 apps you have still in play.
If you’re a Round 1 applicant who’s not yet been invited to interview
It’s coming close to time to be looking at a Round 2 strategy. So, not only do you need to be doing school research to determine which schools might be appropriate to pitch in Round 2, but you also need to be looking at what may have gone wrong in Round 1. We’re not yet at crisis time for Round 1 and interviews; we’re not trying to suggest that if you’ve not yet been invited, that you’re royally screwed. There’s plenty of interview invitations yet to be issued for many, many very good schools. Don’t panic. Not quite yet, at least. There will be plenty of time for that, and BSers are very skilled at panicking, so you don’t need to practice that part. You’ll do just fine with executing the “panic” when Panic Time arrives.
If you didn’t apply anywhere yet, and Round 2 will be your first apps
It’s time to get busy! You should DEFINITELY be starting to work on your essays — not by actually writing any essays yet, but by developing your essay strategy. This will take you WAY longer than you expect. You need to be moving forward on essay development NOW. Remember, your first drafts are going to suck. The best way to minimize the suck? Start with the framework. Identify your raw material and polish it up. Establish the infrastructure of what your pitch will be – and only then start to write the pitch.
The other big thing that you should be doing as a Round 2 applicant is visiting the schools. You have a fast-closing window of opportunity to do that before the holidays hit and students scamper away from campus. School research is important for everyone, at all stages — you need to research the schools to figure out which ones to apply to in the first place, you need to do more research to do a good job on your interview (those pesky “So why do you want to go here, anyway?” type questions), and you need to do even more research to figure out which one to choose when you get all those multiple offers stacked up. It’s a never-ending part of the process. Which isn’t a problem since it’s also FUN. The funnest part being the actual on-campus experience. If you’re skipping that, you’re cheating yourself of a super valuable part of the process.
You may be in a lull phase thinking you have plenty of time, that deadlines are still so far off in the distance, or that everything is likely to come together in Round 1. For the latter? We hope you’re right! But don’t count on it. Keep working on your applications until you’re ACCEPTED. THEN you can take a breather. For now, there’s work to do!
UPDATE! We posted the following day on one additional super-important “What should I be working on now?” case: The Round 1 applicant who’s had apps rejected.
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