We offered a discussion here about the sometimes-wise decision to put things off a year if a BSer isn’t ready. If there are significant gaps in the profile, then yes, sometimes it does, in fact, make sense to take the long road to bschool. If you don’t, and you try to rush in your apps when there are big holes glaring out from the middle of your candidacy, then it’s unlikely you’re going to make it in anyway, so why not take the mature approach and go fix those things first? Then you can give it your best shot. Throwing it at the wall to see if it sticks is NEVER a strategy.
OK fine, you’ve recognized that this is going to be a longer-term project than you originally thought. How do you make the most of it?
In terms of other things you can be doing from now till next app season: GET TO WORK.
This is not a time to coast. You should not put on the brakes, now that you’ve decided to do things right. In fact, the opposite is true. If you are giving yourself the luxury of time, then this actually increases the pressure — particularly if you’re moving towards the ‘older’ side of things. If you graduated more than 4 years ago, then you’re in this category. If that’s the case, then next year will definitely be the year you want to make the bschool thing happen. Since you’re taking another year to get your profile strengthened, you’ll also need to put some attention to the components of your career and what you’ll be able to present to the adcoms next season.
The schools sometimes expect more of candidates with more time in the workforce – you will have had more chance to prove yourself and make an impact, and they’ll want to see evidence of that. So the bar is inching ever higher for candidates with each year spent in their careers. You will need to make the most of the intervening time, to buff up your profile and make sure you have good stories to share.
Thus, use this time to make a difference in your profile.
Anywhere you can be doing big things on the job and in the community will pay off for you. You’ll want to make sure that your career progression continues. Do you have a promotion coming up? If not, and you haven’t had one in awhile, find a way to make that happen. Look for ways to build new skills. Take on high-profile projects. Do all this with careful planning, with an eye towards where you want to go post-MBA.
One way to do that is to map out your planned future direction by nailing down those post-MBA career goals. Then, with the clarity that brings, you can figure out what projects or assignments or initiatives you can volunteer for at work that will help you get closer to those goals. It will also help you see what you don’t know — if you have trouble articulating your career goals, then now is a good time to find that out! Getting your goals nailed down and understanding the reason why you need an MBA in the first place is an invaluable early exercise, regardless of when you’re planning on applying.
If you decide to put things off, don’t go on vacation. You want to be using this time wisely, working towards bigger and better things. The next admissions season will be here remarkably fast – it happens that way every year. Be ready for it.