Business Schools

Application Game Plans


If you thought applying to college was a royal pain, wait until you get a load of the business school application process. You've got a lot of work ahead of you, to say the least. And some might say, a lot more at stake than you did when you applied to college. But look at it this way, compared to the work you'll put in once you actually start business school, it's a cakewalk. And the pay-off is definitely there.

To help you out, The Princeton Review has developed application game plans for three types of business school applicants. Click on each one to go directly to the corresponding plan of attack.

The Early Bird. Admissions staffers love the Early Bird, who starts in January, a full 18 months before entering school.

The Average Joe (or Josephine). Most would-be business students start the application process in the early summer, a little over a year before they intend to matriculate as first-year students.

The Procrastinator. Warning: Although the procrastinator sometimes manages to pull his game plan off, the odds are against him. Read this as a cautionary tale.

The Early Bird

Early bird is a nice way of putting it. You work like a dog, exercise like a demon, and party like a rockstar. You do not sleep. "Let the bottomfeeders sleep," you think to yourself as you grind three more Tums and negate them with another $6 coffee. You will be first. Oh yes, you will be first. You are driven. You are insane.

In fairness, you are much better adjusted than this, much less grotesque than the panting overachiever above. But admit it - you will be first in submitting your business school application, won't you? And for good reason.

Timing is indeed an important factor affecting business school admissions. It is hard to argue with that fact that every seat is available for your behind at the opening of the admissions process while precious few remain at the final deadline. Simple probability - something that, of course, you'll have no trouble with on the GMAT - tells you to get your application in as soon as humanly possible. For all intents and purposes, this is true - especially for those of you shouldering some sort of baggage (such as a low undergraduate GPA or a well-below-average number of years of work experience).

You must, however, bear one crucial caveat in mind: Regardless of the timing of your submission, your application must sparkle. Don't risk submitting an unfocused, error-laced application on Day 1 simply to have gotten it in on Day 1. Your job, Mr. and Ms. Earlybird, is to be early AND fantastic.

Here's how to do so for fall admission:

January

Research schools. No, this does not mean taking out a sheet of paper and typing "All work and no Harvard makes Jack a poor boy" over and over. Use the Internet. Start with The Princeton Review's Advanced Search to identify schools matching your specific needs. Go crazy.

Contact schools to request applications. Warning - most applications for fall admission are usually not available until July, the year before you plan to go, so if you get an application immediately, it probably isn't the right one. Use it as a reference point and make sure you request the following year's application as well. You'll get that one late in the summer.

February

Take a practice GMAT online. This ain't no SAT. The computer-adaptive test (CAT) tests the same old GMAT question types but in a new, far-from-linear way. The Princeton Review has a free online practice GMAT for you.

March

Consider a prep course. The Princeton Review offers preparation courses of all types. You can even try out the online GMAT course free. Whatever you do, do something to prepare.

April

Register for the GMAT. Call 800-GMAT-NOW (clever, huh?). That's 800-462-8669 or register online at www.gmac.com.

Start your preparation. Remember, do something to prepare. How much will depend on your starting score and how much improvement is required to reach your desired score. Start with The Princeton Review's GMAT Guide.

Create list of recommenders and contact them. As difficult as this may be to fathom, it's the depth of your relationships with your recommenders that is important, not the size of their reputations. Stick with those who know you well. Your list should include at least two professional recommenders and at least one academic recommender.

May

Continue your prep. We never said it would be easy.

Finalize school list. Your list should have balance. Some top-tiers should be mixed with second- and third-tier schools. Doing so will create more options for you down the road. To make it easy on yourself, you can save your targeted schools using the The Princeton Review's Favorite Schools tool. This allows you to track your application progress later in the year.

Keep track of deadlines. Add date of first deadline or of opening of rolling admissions for each school on list. Again, this is easy with Favorite Schools - it will do it for you.

Prepare brief profile for your recommenders' use. Include deadlines for recommenders in profile.

June

Take the GMAT.

Request official undergraduate transcripts.

Register for GMAT if you need to retake it.

Consider a business school admissions counseling service. And you thought getting married was tough ... Find out more.

July

Complete and submit GMAC Additional Score Reporting (ASR) form. On test day, you designate five schools to which your results will be sent. The ASR is for school 6, school 7, etc. It's $25 per school and takes two weeks for you to receive the paperwork. To request the form, click here.

Call schools to learn if essays will be changed from year to year. Columbia, for example, will not change its fall 2001 essay questions for those applying for fall 2002 admission. If a school you are considering does not change its essays, write preliminary drafts of each essay.

Retake the GMAT, if necessary.

August

Contact schools to request applications. This is in case you've added schools or you've become paranoid that you're not on the mailing list you joined back in January. You can request information directly from a school's Basics page.

See if applications are available online.Applying online is a time-saver. Though you may not be under a lot of time pressure, take advantage of online applications. Check out the ones Review.com has available right here.

Dig in. Those essays don't write themselves, you know.

Follow up with recommenders.

Update your resume.

File Early Decision applications, if schools with this program are on your list.

September

Fine tune essays.

Stay in touch with recommenders. Don't nag, but do check in.

October

Submit applications. Specific deadlines will guide you as to which schools you'll be sending.

Send thank-you notes to recommenders. Think Ping. Think Godiva.

Get back in touch. With your faith. And with the friends you've neglected for months on end.

November - December

Submit more applications.

Sweat.

January

Rejoice.

back to top

The Average Joe (or Josephine)

How do you do it? Where, for the love of Timmy, did you

learn how to balance things so well? Job. Friends. Significant other. Family. Gym. Finances. Travel. And rare is the day you look unraveled by the details of your life.

Oh. You plan.

The business school applications process and its every detail can turn a powerhouse into a house of cards. The business school you choose to attend may very well have a massive effect on the rest of your life and the way you'll live it. This is not lost on you.

But you've been planning for this, and you will methodically execute every step of your applications process to exactly your

liking. You've made room for the work in your schedule. You've made sacrifices. You've even said No to some people to whom you don't like saying No. And, somehow, there you are, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, getting it done.

Making the first deadline would be great, but you have no

intention of rushing this. You recognize that the second deadline is the real deadline. The grand majority of the seats business schools make available will be filled by those who have submitted no later than the second deadline - or the middle of the rolling admissions period, depending on the school. As

always, you've got things under control.

Here's how you'll work through the process for fall

admission:

February - March

Research schools. Use the Internet. Start with The Princeton Review's Advanced Search to identify schools matching your specific needs. Enjoy yourself.

March

Take a practice GMAT online. This ain't no SAT. The computer-adaptive test (CAT) tests the same old GMAT question types but in a new, far-from-linear way. The Princeton Review has a free online practice GMAT for you.

April

Consider a prep course. The Princeton Review offers preparation courses of all types. You can even try out our online GMAT course free.

May

Register for the GMAT. Call 800/GMAT-NOW (800/462-8669) or register online at www.gmac.org.

Start your preparation. Remember, do something to prepare. How much will depend on your starting score and how much improvement is required to reach your desired score. Check out The Princeton Review's GMAT Guide.

Create list of recommenders and contact them. As difficult as this may be to fathom, it's the depth of your relationships with your recommenders that is important, not the size of their reputations. Stick with those who know you well. Your list should include at least two professional recommenders and at least one academic recommender.

June

Continue your prep. Love that yes/no data sufficiency, don't you?

Finalize school list. Your list should have balance. Some top-tiers should be mixed with second- and third-tier schools. Doing so will create more options for you down the road. To make it easy on yourself, use The Princeton Review's Favorite Schools tool so you can track your application progress later in the year.

Keep track of deadlines. Add date of first deadline or of opening of rolling admissions for each school on list.

Prepare brief profile for your recommenders' use. Include deadlines for recommenders in profile.

July

Take the GMAT.

Request official undergraduate transcripts.

Register for GMAT if you need to retake it.

Consider a business school admissions counseling service. Find out more.

August

Complete and submit GMAC Additional Score Reporting (ASR) form. On test day, you designate five schools to which your results will be sent. The ASR is for school 6, school 7, etc. It's $25 per school and takes two weeks for you to receive the paperwork. To request the form, click here.

Consider applying online. The Princeton Review has online applications for some schools available. Other schools have their applications available on their websites. The old fashioned paper versions are available as well, but you'll have to wait for them to arrive in the mail.

Start with your forms and your essays.

Follow up with recommenders.

Update your resume.

Retake the GMAT, if necessary.

File Early Decision applications, if schools with this program are on your list.

September

Fine tune essays.

Stay in touch with recommenders. Check in to make sure everything is clear to them and they won't have problems with their deadlines.

October - November

Submit applications. Specific deadlines will guide you as to which schools you'll be sending.

Send thank-you notes to recommenders. Think Amazon gift certificate.

December - January

Submit more applications.

February-March

Rejoice. And then start planning for your fall.

back to top

The Procrastinator

WARNING: This timeline can be seen either as a open dare or as a friendly way to encourage you to change your ways and follow a better timeline. The choice, however, is yours.

Suffice it to say that your business school applications savvy has been, uh, slow to evolve. You could be one of those over-confident vanity cases who submits your application to an attractive school at its final deadline and who believes that your chances of admission are as healthy as can be.

Even worse, you could be the good-intentioned glutton-for-punishment who wanted to get your applications in on an earlier deadline. Somehow, though, work kept getting in the way, and those weekends meant to be spent hammering out applications were wasted on back-nine coverage, imported light beer, and baked snack foods.

Let the following timeline be a glimpse into hell:

June

Spend $20 on newsstand business school guidebooks. Memorize rankings. Do not pause to wonder how rankings may or may not apply specifically to you.

July

Register for the GMAT. Call 800/GMAT-NOW. Figure out the corresponding digits yourself, Einstein.

August

Re-schedule the GMAT. Oh, of course, there's skin cancer to be developed. Our mistake.

September

Take the GMAT. "Pass the aloe."

October

Re-take the GMAT. "I can't believe I'm still peeling."

November

Re-re-take the GMAT.Contact schools to request applications.

December

Find a good spot for applications to gather dust. Or to be lost.

February

Awaken in a cold sweat. Which, admittedly, is easier to do in February than the time of year you should have gotten started.

Hound recommenders. "Wait. Did you say 'recommenders'? With an S at the end? As in more than one? Oh, you gotta be kidding me."

Complete forms.

Write essays.

Request official undergraduate transcripts.

March

Badger undergraduate transcript office. And then offer up FedEx account number.

Submit applications.

Send hand-scrawled apologies to recommenders and alma mater. Think pink slip. Think lousy homecoming tickets.

May

Gather rejection letters. If you got in, go buy a lottery ticket. You are one lucky soul.

June

Check applications for typos.

back to top


Silicon Valley State of Mind
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW

(enter your email)
(enter up to 5 email addresses, separated by commas)

Max 250 characters

 
blog comments powered by Disqus