“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
There is no doubt about it; applying to business school is a journey. Admissions Committees want to understand what you did in college and how you performed academically, what you have been doing in the workplace, and how your personal experiences have shaped you. While synthesizing all of this information in a business school application can be quite daunting, it doesn’t have to be if you take the time to systematically work through it. Therefore, whether you are applying later this year, a young professional who just graduated from college, or a student still in college, it's never too early to start thinking about business school and the application process.
In my experience, the most successful applications have been those where clients have taken the time to thoughtfully put together the various pieces. Here are three reasons why embarking on your business school journey early will give you a leg up on the competition.
You can get the GMAT/GRE out of the way
Taking the GMAT/GRE is, unfortunately, just one of those things that needs to be done as part of the business school application process. And while some people can ace the exam in one sitting without studying, the majority of applicants need to prepare amply in order to do well. By taking the exam as early as possible, not only do you get it out of the way, but there is also enough time to retake it, if necessary.
Studying for the GMAT/GRE while simultaneously working on the actual business school application can be quite stressful. I have worked with clients who have taken the GMAT/GRE up to the application deadlines and have not scored as well as they were hoping and/or expecting, which has resulted in them either pushing applications to the next round/following application cycle or submitting applications that do not reflect their true potential. This situation is not ideal since it puts undue pressure on you.
By getting the GMAT/GRE out of the way, you can focus all of your attention on the written parts of the application once you are ready to apply.
You can address any weaknesses or gaps in your profile
By starting early, you can take stock of your profile and bolster any weaknesses or gaps so that you are putting your best foot forward once you apply. The most common weakness that I see arising is not doing enough on the extracurricular side. Keep in mind that business schools assess whether or not you will contribute to campus life through your extracurricular activities and the impact that you have had. With time on your side, you will have enough time to actively participate in the community in a meaningful way. It is very difficult to have impact if you begin engaging in extracurricular activities weeks or even a couple of months before application deadlines.
You have enough time to research business schools
Researching business schools is extremely important since throughout the process, from the applications to the interviews, you will have to point to why you want to attend that school, how it will help you attain your post-MBA goals, and why you are a good fit for the school. In this day and age in which we are all seamlessly connected, not engaging with a school on any level is a red flag. What are the best ways to research schools? The first is through a campus visit where you can attend an information session, sit in on a class, and speak with Admissions Officers and students. Since classes are only in session during certain times of the year, such trips should be planned in advance (which is why being ahead in the process is an advantage). However, understanding that it is not always possible to visit campus because of where you may be situated, other ways in which you can learn about business schools is through local information sessions in your city, online webinars, and conversations with current students and alumni. By spending enough time to thoroughly conduct research, you will have much more material to draw from as you work on your applications, which will help to enhance and strengthen them.
By starting early in the business school application process, you will be able to get ahead of your competition while enjoying the experience.
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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.