It's never too early to start in the MBA application process. In fact due to the many elements required throughout the process, the earlier you begin the better. In order to increase your chances of getting into your top choice business school is it advised you apply by the first round deadline in October. It only becomes increasingly difficult to be accepted in each proceeding round because in each round they have less of the class to fill. We have all heard it countless times since we were small school children, that the key to success is time management. Unfortunately we can not offer any revolutionary advice that will help you complete your application with success without time management. However, we can offer you a timeline to follow to ensure you allow yourself ample time to put together a strong application.
On Going: Begin Your Research.
Its is never too early for this step and it should be ongoing throughout the application process. You can be as early as multiple years out from applying or as close as a few months away, but you can always be looking into different business schools to see which would be the best fit for you based on your career goals. Business school is a large investment, so make sure you have enough time to make a proper decision. This can be done by visiting the school or coming to one of our MBA Tour conferences in a city near you, where you can meet with alumni and school admission recruiters one on one.
February/ March: GMAT Prep and Additional Coursework.
This step takes more time than many people realize. David Braslow, an Instructor at Manhattan GMAT explains what to expect regarding the GMAT timeline.
To make the first round deadline in October, it is advised you start GMAT prep no later than March the year you plan to apply. You can do this step much earlier if you prefer, but keep in mind your score is only valid for five years. Starting in March you should allow you enough time to do a 10 week preparatory program (or self guided study) before taking the exam for the first time in June. If you are not satisfied with your first score you will still have time to retake the exam again in July. Also, no later than March, and ideally a little earlier, consider if you need any additional coursework to supplement your application. For example, if you were an english major and did not take many quantitative courses at your undergraduate institution, you may want to enroll in a math class to prove your quantitative skills, which are important while pursuing your MBA. This also is a good option for candidates with a lower undergraduate GPA, because this allows you to prove yourself as a student.
April/May: Decide On Recommenders
By April or early May you should decide who you would like to write your recommendations. Take time to reconnect with old supervisors or professors. Set up a meeting with them, taking initiative and meeting with them reveals you take this process seriously and value an MBA and there time. Take the time with your recommenders, it will likely pay off.
July/August: Brainstorm and Begin Essays
You may need to retake the GMAT in July, but also note that most applications will become available in July for the first round deadline. Don’t wait to start. Once the applications are out begin brainstorming your essays, and answering short answers. Devote small chunks of time over the summer months to working on these essays, it pays to have time to reflect on your answers and re-work them.
September/October: Finalize and Apply
Be sure you follow up with your recommenders in September, and remind them that applications are due next month. See if they need any further assistance. Use this final month to finalize and edit your essay. Finally, send in your application in October and patiently await the school's response or interview invitation.
If you are interested in pursuing your MBA either this application season or maybe a few years from now, be sure to come to one of our MBA Conferences this summer.