Some very act-together BSers are already queuing themselves up for an MBA application in the Fall. They’ve got their GMAT studies well underway, or they’ve even taken the test and are all squared away on the basic requirements. They’ve gone through our Comprehensive Profile Review and they now know their profile strengths and weaknesses, and are even considering re-taking the GMAT (which unfortunately is advice we have to deliver more often than we wish). Today we have one more important strategy that you can do now, that will give you a massive leg up on figure out your approach to your applications when the summer rolls around and you’re faced with the daunting task of writing those essays.
Start an application at your target school today.
What we mean is, go to their website and register for the MBA application. Open an app. Begin the process – as if you were going to apply now.
All the schools still are accepting applications to the Class of 2019; they’ve all got at least one more round available by which people are submitting for consideration for the active season.
Even though you’re intentionally not applying till next season (Class of 2020) you would still find value in beginning the process today by looking at the actual application.
Obviously we are NOT suggesting that you SUBMIT this app that you’re going to open up. All you’re doing is creating a record in the school’s system. What that does, is it allows you to look through the entire set of requirements, most of which will stay the same when the school re-does its app for the Class of 2020. What will very likely be changing is the actual essay questions, so we are not saying you should actually start writing anything. Hold off on that. Writing essays now, when you’re not applying till next season, would be a total waste of time.
However, it would not be a waste of time to LOOK AT the questions, and THINK ABOUT the questions, and see if you can come up with some ideas for what you might say. Most of the schools do change things but directionally, they often are similar (in the case of a school like Columbia, they are often very similar from year to year). We expect to see some dramatic changes in prompts at particular schools with the next-season essays (which is the subject of a different post that we really should write soon). Even though a school may change its tactics in what torture device it’s using or the exact hoops that they’re requiring BSers to jump through, its strategy of what they want to see in their candidates and how they will be evaluating each class stays the same from year to year.
There is no downside to starting an app this season even though you’re not planning to apply next year. There’s a few schools with outdated tech that may require you to start an app with a fresh email address each year, or you’ll have to contact their admissions office to get things re-set, but in most cases you’ll be able to use the same sign-on next time. It does not affect your chances in any way at all to have a record in their system for the Class of 2019 even though you won’t be submitting your actual application until the Class of 2020. No impact. Not even if you end up having to contact the admissions office to get the account to work again next year. This won’t matter; they won’t care.
Obviously you won’t want to log your recommenders’ info or anything; we’re not suggesting you actually complete all the fields. You should go through them and see what they’re asking for but for most schools you’ll be able to view the entirety of the application without actually putting in data. There are some apps that in past years, have required you to fill out each screen before it reveals the next one, so for those, you will want to put in valid data as you go (don’t just make up dummy data, since that could REALLY backfire on you if you forget to fix it when you’re ready to submit the app in the summer). Just don’t do it on the Recommenders’ screen, since it will literally email your recommender and ask them to complete the rec, which you don’t want (again, obviously).
Seeing what the schools are literally asking for can be a very useful exercise.
Some requirements do change from season to season, but that’s unusual. One example is when Yale dropped the TOEFL requirement; one year, they made international applicants submit a TOEFL score, and the next year, they didn’t. Or, when bschools added the GRE as an alternate test that they’d accept along with the GMAT. It’s very rare that a school will tighten up requirements in some area, rather than loosening them, as these examples indicate. However, it’s always possible that things change, so don’t count on everything being the same again next season when you’re ready to apply.
All the schools close out their application once their final round is in. There is a period between seasons where you won’t be able to log on to any application at all; they won’t let you into the original app that you started, and the new one won’t yet be available. You’ll be on their email distribution by having a record in system, and some schools send out alerts when they’ve got the new app ready (not all of them do though).
If you’re hot to trot and ready to roll with your MBA plans, but you won’t be actually applying for awhile, there are still ways you can maximize your overpreparedness and use this time to advantage. This simple tip is just one of them.
(Reading the EssaySnark blahg is another of course! Thanks for being a Brave Supplicant, and giving us someone to write for. 🙂 )
We hope this helps, BSer! Good luck as you start to think about your big dreams of bschool.