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Checklists & Timelines - MBA Admissions Timeline

Identify your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate. Understanding what differentiates you from the rest of the candidates in the applicant pool will help you highlight these strengths in your application.

Develop a plan to address your weaknesses and enhance your strengths. This is the time to start addressing any weaknesses in your profile. For instance, if you are not involved in outside activities, seriously consider joining a club or organization that you can present as an extension of a long-standing interest or tie in to future involvement at the individual MBA programs. On the other hand, if you feel that your academic profile is weak, you should consider putting together an alternative transcript that demonstrates a strong track record of quantitative coursework (e.g. basic classes in accounting, statistics, calculus, or economics). These classes can be taken at any community college or even through an accredited online program.

Define/refine career goals, talk to those in your target industry. Not only will talking to people in your targeted industry help you to refine your objectives, but it will provide you with a valuable professional network.

Visit MBA programs and talk with students. In order to get a distinct sense of which programs fit with your interests and personality, talk to students at the individual schools. Visiting campus is a great way to really get a feel for a school and determine whether it’s a good fit for one’s goals and personality. Getting this step out of the way in the spring – as opposed to in the fall when you are juggling applications – can be incredibly helpful. Not only can a campus visit be advantageous in the application process, but it is also a great way to gain some firsthand experience with the program and the people. This experience will be valuable as you write your application essays: the more information you can provide about trips to campus, visits to classes and conversations with students and alums, the more sincere your interest in the program will seem. Reading up on the programs with Clear Admit’s School Guides or visiting the Clear Admit Blog will also help you showcase your in-depth knowledge in your application essays.

Begin to study for the GMAT. In order to get ready for the test, seriously consider taking a course or working with a tutor. Manhattan GMAT can provide just the support and preparation you will need to earn a high score.

GMAT preparation! We cannot emphasize enough the importance of preparation in helping you earn a high mark. A high GMAT score will help solidify a strong picture of your candidacy.

Begin crafting your resume. Nearly every MBA program requires that you produce a resume for the admissions process. Remember to round out the picture of your candidacy and keep it simple. While you’ll certainly want to describe your professional responsibilities and achievements in some detail, remember that this document needs to fit on a single page (with rare exceptions). Rather than overwhelming the reader with information, try to identify three or four discrete projects or accomplishments to complement a few concise statements about your day to day responsibilities in each position. Remember that it’s also important to be as specific as possible about the impact you’ve had on your organization by quantifying the results of your efforts.


Take the GMAT. Good luck!

Begin working on a statement detailing your career plans. Regardless of whether you apply to schools that have a career goals essay, it will be important to reflect upon why you want an MBA and how it will help you reach the next step in your professional objectives. Having well-defined and feasible objectives can make your candidacy appear more focused and compelling.


Retake GMAT (if needed). Top schools like to see applicants scoring at or above the 80th percentile in each section of the exam. If your first effort falls below this mark, retaking often makes sense. Keep in mind that most applicants experience a boost in scores during the second sitting of the exam.

Brainstorm essay topics. As you brainstorm, think about balancing your examples with both professional and personal anecdotes.

Decide on recommenders and approach them to gauge their interest. In general, your recommenders should have greater seniority than you, unless the school specifically asks for a peer recommendation. Also, the people you select should be able to provide the adcom with a fairly comprehensive and up-to-date perspective on your professional experiences.


Essay writing/revising. As you write, be sure to quantify your impact, fully explain your actions, and provide illustrative examples to produce a set of engaging essays. It is crucial that your essays work together to present a consistent and compelling picture of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you bring to the table. The adcoms are looking for students who are interesting, well-rounded, and likely to make a contribution to the school both in and out of the classroom.

Provide recommenders with materials (resume, goals, background on schools, deadlines, etc.). In helping your recommenders speak to your contributions and professional and personal strengths, it would be beneficial to provide them with key information in order to better focus the recommendations. For instance, think about reminding them of projects you worked on under their direction so that they can touch on the impact of your contributions in the recommendations. Also, it would be helpful to discuss your goals with recommenders so that they can indicate how your past and current work will prepare you to meet your objectives, with the help of an MBA. Providing your recommenders with a list of your target schools’ deadlines is also a critical step.

GMAT score reports sent to schools, transcript options investigated. Though schools require that GMAT scores be submitted with the application, they differ on when they require official academic transcripts. Familiarize yourself with the requirements and processes of your target schools.

Sign up for interviews at schools that have open interviews.

Visit school-hosted blogs to get in on the latest buzz at the MBA programs. Admissions offices often use blogs to inform students about the latest deadlines, policies, and events, and many schools even have student-hosted blogs that can give you personable insight into the individual programs.

Begin planning for the deadlines. Decide which schools you would like to apply to in each round. Target your top schools in R1, as based upon invitations to interview, you will get a better sense of whether you should broaden your list for R2.

Look into off-campus admissions events. Beginning in the summer, MBA programs take to the road, hosting an array of admissions panels, information sessions, and meet & greets. These events are wonderful opportunities to learn more about the programs.

Fill out the online application forms. Don’t underestimate how long these take, and pacing yourself will be key to getting these finished with plenty of time for review. Make everything clear and concise, and be sure to follow instructions!

Visit campus. If you have time, consider visiting the campuses of your target schools a second time to gain a better sense of what classes and programs will help you best achieve your career objectives and how you can contribute to campus life. This valuable exposure to the schools’ communities will help you touch on details in your essays, allowing you to showcase your in-depth knowledge of the school and understanding of how great a fit it is for you and vice versa.

Finish essays and application forms. It’s time to put those finishing touches on your essays and forms. Make sure that you are maintaining a consistent message and focus. Check in with your recommenders to ensure that they’ve done their part.

The month of R1 deadlines! Work hard to finish and submit those applications.

R1 interviews. Prepare for interviews by reviewing your materials and gaining practice articulating your responses. In the actual interview, you will want to expand or add new information to your file via the interviewer’s notes in addition to reinforcing your existing message (a critical component of most interviews). Interviews are often in November, but many schools interview for R1 in December as well.

Begin planning for R2 deadlines. If you intend to submit additional applications in R2, begin planning for these deadlines. The R2 deadlines are mostly condensed within the two weeks of January, so you will want to begin planning early in order to have plenty of time to devote the necessary attention to each school’s application.

More R1 interviews.

R1 decisions! Many schools begin releasing their decisions in December, though these notifications often continue through late January.

Prepare for R2 deadlines.

Think about b-school financing. As you greet the New Year, it’s time to think about financing for business school through earning scholarships or taking out federal or alternative education loans. The main federal loans, available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, are the Federal Stafford Loan (subsidized or unsubsidized), the Federal Perkins Loan, and the GradPLUS Loan. Full-time students, usually those enrolled in two or more courses per semester, can borrow as much as $20,500/year through the Federal Strafford Loan program.

The month of R2 deadlines!

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