If you’re in the States: Welcome back! Heading to work on the Monday after Thanksgiving is always a bummer. Four-day weekends go by much too quickly! And if you were stuck in an airport during any of that time, then you’re probably feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation.
We’re still technically in November but in case you haven’t noticed, the month is draining away, and THIS WEEK — yes, THIS WEEK!! — the calendar page will turn to December.
As of today, Monday, November 26th, you have less than six weeks until the first Round 2 application deadlines will hit.
But you don’t really have six weeks.
Because one of those weeks is between Christmas and New Year’s, and nobody wants to be writing essays then.*
So you have five weeks.
But you don’t really have five weeks.
Because you’re reading this now, when it still seems like it must be November and not yet December, and surely, it doesn’t feel like you have to get started yet.
So let’s call it four weeks.
But some of you don’t actually have four weeks, since you’re currently clutching a lottery ticket of Round 1 applications — which we hope will turn out!!! We know many of you are interviewing / have interviewed at multiple places, so the chances are in fact looking hopeful. But you won’t actually know for another few weeks.
So we’re down to the real getting-started date for many BSers of around December 10th or 15th, which is when most schools will be issuing final decisions and you’ll have verdicts rendered and your fate will be known.
So yeah, it’s kinda like two weeks or maybe three.
Did we mention it’s time to get started?
In lieu of a Round 2 Countdown, we’re using the blahg to try and motivate you, and help you stay on track if you have Round 2 in your sights.
What should have happened already? Where should you be in your process?
Well, for sure, your short list of schools — no more than, say, 6 or 7 — should be identified. These need to be reasonable targets, not all stretch schools, please! (Not sure if your targets are reasonable? Our Comprehensive Profile Review can give input to that question!)
And, you should know WHY you’re targeting each school on that list.
And you should know which one you’re tackling first. Which school’s essays are easiest? Which will be the best place for you to begin?
Often Columbia makes sense, if you’re applying there. They have (reasonably) straightforward questions. The work you do on building out your Columbia application will be at least semi-transferable to certain other schools too. (Pro Tip: All schools’ essays need to be written from scratch. There are very few cases where you can do a save-as and reuse an essay for a different school altogether. Trying to do so is almost always guaranteed to cause problems, and the adcom at the second school, who’s getting a recycled essay, will undoubtedly be able to tell. No cutting corners like that, BSer!)
The other key reason for Columbia of course: You need to get that app in fast! Like, NOW. Don’t wait till their January deadline. If you haven’t already read it, grab our Columbia SnarkStrategies Guide to understand all the implications of rolling admissions for their MBA app and how Regular Decision works, and the impact on timing.
You should also be clear on the interview requirements and process at each of your 6-ish schools. Are you trying for Tuck, or Kellogg, or any other interview-everyone school? You need to know how interviews work there. Again, the SnarkStrategies Guides will be invaluable (Tuck MBA Application Guide; Kellogg MBA Application Guide).
You should be reading up on the blahg! Learning to write a good essay will not happen overnight. This requires study — for many people, nearly as much study as prep for the GMAT. Start with our show, don’t tell topics and read, read, read. Come back to them again as you’re writing. Blahg members can use our “favorite” feature to save posts and come back to them later. Many of the techniques that we discuss won’t make sense until you’re knee-deep in essays. They simply require time, and context, and (unfortunately, for many) a certain amount of suffering until they start to make sense.
And oh yeah, even though we often feel like we’re shouting into the wind about this, outlines really do help!!! We lay out specific ways to structure your essays in our Essay Ideas App Accelerator, and you’ll get your outlines for one school reviewed through that process. Doing more prework upfront, before you start to write, is going to make the whole process go more smoothly.
You need to plan on a good two weeks of dedicated focus for each application. You can stack those weeks and tag-team your essays but only do so after you are CERTAIN you know what you’re doing. If you start in on essays for all your schools as one project, you are guaranteed to be setting yourself up for more rework than necessary. The first essays you write will be crap. Recognize that fact — work hard and apply yourself — figure out what’s needed in writing these things — and focus intently on beating the learning curve. Then, and only then, should you start in on others. To do so prematurely will create nothing but grief.
For your most beloved school, and/or the most competitive one, we do suggest getting some professional input into your process. Our Essay Decimator is our #1 best seller for a reason. We also have the very affordable Sanity Check, which you can use instead to make sure that what you’ve produced truly has a chance at the school that you’re aiming for. And, if you’re reading this in November or early December or even up till, say, middle of December if you’re diligent and ready to work, then the Complete Essay Package really is a great way to go from nothing to finished (at least on the essays) in a structured and rational way.
And you can always leave a question on any post on the blahg and we’re happy to answer it!
We’ll be around nearly nonstop through the holidays and all the way into your Round 2 deadlines. Let us know how we can help, Brave Supplicant! You got this! We know you can do it!
*Many of you will in fact be writing essays then. Because you will read this post when it was published, in the first days of December, and you will breezily remain in your comfy State of Denial all the way through until aroundabouts December 21st when you will suddenly realize what needs to be done, and much scrambling will thereupon commence.