Getting Organized

Failing to get organized as you begin your MBA application journey is tantamount to failing on purpose.  Here's a few tips on how you can ensure you take the preparation for MBA apps as seriously as you take business school itself.

Business school will likely be the most expensive endeavor you ever take to better yourself.  Not only are you shelling out a ton of money to attend a top program, you are also giving up on two years of good income.  If you are wise, you will think through the process up front, lest you end up hacking your way through the next several months with no plan.

First and foremost, you must be intentional about crafting a written plan.

Don't simply spend a few minutes thinking it through---actually put your plan down on paper.  Often, utilizing a matrix and a decision tree can help you map things out. The matrix can operate as your checklist and the decision tree can help you make moves based upon as-yet-undetermined outcomes.  If you can get a batting order in place for all the to-dos on your b-school application list, you will essentially free your mind up to think about more important things, like how to position your story.

This is going to sound biased, but getting a consultant on board early in the process is extremely helpful. 

Most consultants offer at least some kind of flat-rate option, so engaging them early costs the same as engaging them at the last minute.  When you partner with a professional application consultant early, they will walk you through exercises to get organized with your thoughts and your actual to-dos, both of which will ultimately work together to position you in the best possible light for the admissions committees.  

Some of the early to-dos on your list include rounding up the documentation that will be required from each school such as transcripts, a solid resume, proof of citizenship and residency.  For some, these endeavors can turn into quite a hassle, so setting a calendar-driven timetable helps you stay on track.

When it comes to organizing your thoughts, you generally would start with self-reflection, which includes potentially writing out a personal statement (or at least a paragraph about why you are wanting to return to b-school).  Often, the personal statement becomes the foundational document from which many of your core essays flow.  Work with your consultant to draw out the unique qualities of your profile into a narrative which weaves your past experiences together and forms a solid foundation for your future vision.

Organizing your future vision is one of the most critical components of a winning business school application.  MBAs are driven, crisp, and focused.  The inability to encapsulate your future plan in easy to understand language that is solidly connected to your past achievements is one of the most often cited reasons for rejection by business schools.  Simply wanting a better job or a higher level credential will not be enough to win the hearts of the adcoms.

Maturity is evident in a well organized and thoughtful presentation of your background.

Lacking maturity is also an easy way to be dismissed from the process.  How do you demonstrate maturity?  Well, presenting an organized and clearly articulated vision that is not only realistic, but also offers an alternative plan (in case your plan A does not materialize) will show an adcom that you have been around the block enough times to know you're not a Pollyannaish dreamer who relies solely on drive and ambition to get what you want.

So you see, being organized not only helps you in the application process, but also in the selection process once your application is submitted.  Business schools value a mature and organized applicant.  There's no better time to become one than as you start the process.