At ARINGO we are often asked for the ideal timeline to prepare for the Top 10 MBA application process. Future candidates need to know what they can do now to maximize their chances, and when they should they start taking specific actions towards their goal. In simple words: what should you do, and when? And how far in advance should you start preparing?
Well, the simple answer is now! There is much to do, and the earlier you get started, the higher your chances will be. Here are some tips on specific pieces of the process, and how to prepare:
GMAT / GRE:
The tests are not easy to tackle, average scores are going up, and some candidates take several months to ace these tests. Since test scores are valid for 5 years, there is no time like the present to start preparing and take these exams.
TOEFL / IELTS:
If you’re a non-native English speaker, you will need to take either the American TOEFL or British IELTS English proficiency tests. Both are accepted by all universities and are valid for two years. Unlike the GMAT / GRE, these tests tend to be easier for candidates with Basic English skills, and it is advised to take them 6 months before your application deadlines.
Unlike a job recommendation, the MBA recommendation letters are tailored and different for each school application (e.g., the Harvard recommendation should be different from the INSEAD recommendation), therefore, there is little you can ask your recommender to do prior to actually submitting his recommendation. What you can do however is to identify two recommenders, keep on good terms with them, and make sure they are aware of your achievements.
MBA programs look for well-rounded applicants. Great grades and work experience are fantastic, but make sure to develop some interesting hobbies, and substantive volunteering or community service. Focus less on the organization you volunteer for and more on the impact you can make. Seek involvement that will be regular and ongoing, rather than “one off” activities like the occasional clean up project or bake sale. Instead, be on the committee that organizes these activities.
Schools and interviewers often look at candidates’ online presence. Google yourself. Make sure what you see is what you want the admissions committees to see.
Each school will expect to see candidates keen about their specific school and programs. Start your school research early. Visit the campuses whenever possible. Talk to alumni and students. These things take time; don’t wait until the last minute.
A typical MBA application will consist of the following: CV/resume, 1-3 recommendation letters and 1-8 essays. In addition, more and more schools are introducing online video essays. These things take time. We at ARINGO suggest starting to work with us as soon as May for the Round 1 application deadlines in September, and in September for the Round 2 application deadlines in January.
Applying to a Top 10 MBA program is a detailed process, and successful candidates have prepared well in advance to ensure that their profiles are competitive and the application reflects their best work. If you think B-school is in your future, start to prepare now.
Michelle Miller is the CEO of ARINGO Americas (www.ARINGO.com), a PhD candidate, and an ardent lover of dogs and coffee.
ARINGO MBA Consulting has helped over 4000 candidates get accepted to the business schools of their dreams. Visit www.ARINGO.com today to check out free resources and schedule a complimentary consultation.