Balancing Round Two Deadlines With the Holidays

The year-end holiday season is typically the busiest time of the year for just about everyone, but layering on MBA applications can make it downright insane.  You need a strategy to make it through it all without losing your mind, and hopefully in the process, also earning a spot at your desired school.

Sometimes it seems the round two deadlines are downright mean-spirited given that they are generally just days after the new year rolls in, essentially forcing applicants to either forego traditional celebration time with family and friends, or at the very least, having to worry their way through it.  Since we’re still about five weeks away, however, there is time remaining to get a plan together. 

Know your alternate Deadlines

Firstly, you must make sure you are aware of cutoffs or deadlines with obtaining transcripts and lining up recommenders before schools shutter themselves for the holidays.  Planning to take advantage of the week after Christmas to get your errands done?  Think again.  Most universities shut down completely the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which stymies clients every year who procrastinate getting these essential tasks done.  Even the corporate world finds the final week of the calendar year a virtual ghost town in many cases, so tracking down your recommenders can be challenging.  Take advantage of the first two weeks of December when relying on others.

Save time to look things over.

Next, you must make sure to budget your time to allow for editing and reviewing.  If your round two deadline is January 5th, for example, start now and try to finish your essays before Christmas, using the remaining days to allow your consultant, friend or family member to read and provide feedback.  Rarely will good essays result from writing and then submitting immediately thereafter. The best way to finish early is to get started quickly.  Don’t worry if you think you’re not ready.  Often, simply putting pen to paper will loosen the creative process and get the words flowing.  Think of the process like pottery.  Throw some clay on the wheel and see what you can shape up.  If it helps, throw some holiday music on in the background and enjoy the fact you still have several weeks ahead of you to make it all happen.

Find time to Relax

Finally, make sure you have a plan to enjoy the season.  Sure, this will hopefully be the last time in your life you have to make school applications, so it’s tempting to focus completely on the process, but if you manage your time to include your favorite holiday indulgences, you will ultimately be more relaxed and likely perform better on your application.  Granted, you may not enjoy the holidays this year like you normally would have, but if you can spend a little time with family, go shopping, or even just sit for a few minutes to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or stare at a Christmas tree, you may surprise yourself at how energizing it can be.

One final tip:  communicate with your consultant.  Those providing guidance and feedback have lives too, so don’t assume their availability will line up with your timing.  Get on the same page with whomever is helping your finish things off and you will be doing both yourself and them a big favor. 

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