How do I apply for Round 2 with so little time remaining?
It is difficult, but definitely possible. The key will be remaining mindful of the non-essay portions of the application (often overlooked by both other consulting firms and anyone applying on their own).
For most MBA programs, you can just upload official copies of your transcripts. You won’t need the originals physically sent to the schools until after you are accepted. That’s simple enough. The part that surprises candidates is that you also usually have to upload the official transcripts from any study abroad programs, even if those courses and grades appear on your primary university transcript. With schools closing for the holidays, you should contact them immediately or get the transcripts as soon as the schools reopen.
Also, for many MS programs, you will need “translated” transcripts, even if your transcripts are in English and using a 4.0 scale. This is often surprising because, intuitively, it seems unnecessary. But many schools require it nonetheless. Therefore, you will need to send your transcripts to a service such as WES. There is a long lead time on this, so start this process as soon as possible (you should have started weeks ago actually), and always pay for rushed processing if available.
Regarding all of the above, of course refer to each program’s requirements. But read closely so you can find out which options they demand.
2) Short Answers
This is essentially “filling out the application.” Many people think this is going to go quickly, but it’s more intensive than they expect. This is especially true for many UK schools, which often have 400-word short answers (conversely, the US might have 400 characters). Make sure these sections are thoughtful, comprehensive, and fully edited. There should be no gap between the level of writing in your essays and the rest of your application.
3) Video Essays
Make sure you know if these are required before completing the application, and then plan accordingly. There are three main types (pre-recorded, “pre-asked,” and “in the moment”). MIT is an example of pre-recorded. You know the question, record your response ahead of time, and then upload the file. This is the easiest because you can try as many times as needed. The second type (e.g. Kellogg) means you will know the questions, but you will have to record them in the actual online application. This usually means you only have one try. So you can practice extensively, but you only get one chance. The third type is the most difficult. You will not know the question or have multiple chances. It’s similar to a TOEFL speaking prompt. Just prepare as best you can for the various question types, and make sure you speak clearly and use all of your time. We coach our clients on all types, but many people do not. Do your best to prepare.
This is not an issue of content as much as timing. Submitting recommendations is more time consuming than many people think. As such, recommenders may not be able to submit numerous schools quickly. They are also likely unavailable during the holidays. So make sure you have created an online log-in for each school, registered each recommender, and notified them to watch their email. Next, you should ask them to submit early. Recommendations can be submitted prior to your portion of the application. This is best done before Jan 1, because again, post-holiday contact may be difficult.
5) Interview Preparation
Do not wait until you are invited to interview to prepare for the interview. We have been coaching our Round 2 clients since the beginning of December. In fact, we do 30 hours of group preparation and 6 hours of private – minimum. We meet multiple times per week for 12 weeks. It’s a very difficult process that requires intensive coaching. Make sure you begin putting in the time and effort early.
This should not just be a list of job responsibilities. That’s what short answers are for. A resume should be a great summary of your achievements and career progress. The writing should also be flawless, and the formatting must meet the various school guidelines. Some schools (especially UK) will even have templates. Follow those requirements, while still providing the best summary of your candidacy.
7) Everything Else
We support our clients in literally every aspect of the application, but if you are working with someone else or applying on your own, there are a lot of little things that can be missed. Read each application carefully, plan ahead, and execute to perfection.
We hope these insights are helpful, and we wish all of you the best of luck in your upcoming applications.