The business school application season has officially begun, with schools releasing essays, deadlines and even the MBA applications themselves. This time of year, I often hear that applicants are planning to start working on their materials at some point in the future, after hitting certain milestones. In my experience, waiting to jump in is usually a mistake. Here are some steps that you should take to get ready to start your MBA applications.

 

  • Map out your standardized test plan

Even if you are still working on your GMAT or GRE, it’s worth moving ahead with other aspects of your candidacy. To prepare efficiently for the test I suggest an in-person class or a tutor, if resources allow. You should also register for an exam, so that you have a fixed goal, and depending on where you are with the testing you might well need to prioritize studying.  However, don’t spend all of your time on the test and be sure to start forging connections, exploring schools and codifying your core candidacy.

 

  • Update your resume

You will use your resume a lot over the next year, and while most people dislike the updating process it’s worth doing now. This is true even if you need to make additional small tweaks before you actually apply.

 

  • Refine your elevator pitch

Many people (admissions officers, your recommenders, students and alums, your mom) will ask you what you want to do when you graduate from business school, short and long term, and why you need an MBA to get there. Your elevator pitch response is really critical throughout the application process – no time like the present to nail it down.

 

  • Visit schools, go to events, research, and talk to students and alums

This will all help you find the right fit, which is so important in business school. More knowledge, connections and firsthand experience will help you write great school specific essays, as well as enabling you to sell your interest in interviews. Sign up now to be notified of summer events, both on campus and in your location, and participate in webinars.  Finally, read the newsletters that schools send.

 

  • Think about recommenders

You want to choose your recommenders strategically, and depending upon your circumstances this might mean reaching out to a previous supervisor or colleague. Getting in touch (or back in touch!) now, before you need to ask for the recommendation, can make the process more organic and comfortable. And even if you are planning to ask people who you currently work with, it’s totally worth making that decision now. Why not cross something off your list?

 

The early deadlines will be here before you know it – and the business school application process is demanding. Get ready to start your MBA applications now to optimize your results.