Many business school candidates make the decision to apply to business school years in advance, while others decide that business school is the route to achieve their professional goals only a few months before applications are due. No matter when an applicant determines that business school is right for them, the most common question I receive is, When should I start preparing? My answer is always: now.
As the founder and CEO of Stratus Prep, Ive helped thousands of MBA applicants maximize their chances of admission to top business schools. Over the last ten years, I have found that while there are official deadlines and barometers for progress, the secret to reaching admission to ones target MBA program is developing and executing a strategically sound long-term strategy. In short: for many of the most competitive candidates, building a strong profile and completing your application is a marathon, not a sprint.
For applicants planning on applying in Round 1 of 2015, now is the time to develop and strengthen your candidacy by identifying weaknesses and taking action to close gaps in your profile. Here are six practicable steps you can begin today. 670px-Students_in_a_Harvard_Business_School_classroom1. Community Service/Extracurricular Leadership Due to the time and energy poured into careers, I see many applicants with insufficient community service or extracurricular leadership. If you start to work now to obtain leadership roles then you will be in them for almost one year before Round 1. Assuming a leadership role in an organization that you care about demonstrates the authenticity of your interest as compared to someone getting involved in these roles a couple months before applying.
When choosing the appropriate community service/extracurricular leadership activities, make sure you choose an activity that connects with your background and personal experience. The experience of working for the organization should be rewarding and the organizations mission should be important to you. This will enable you to talk passionately about the experience during interviews and in application essays...