It's that time again, folks! Within the past few days, several schools have started to push their Class of 2017 applications live. Round 1 apps are due in as soon as 3 months. That may seem like a long time, but last year I found that time absolutely flew by. So, here's my advice for how to use your summer to be best prepared for application season. Let the games begin!
1. Prioritize the GMAT and get it done. You may be busy at work or dealing with family life, but you don't have time to delay the GMAT at this point. Try to get the test done by July, so that you can fully devote yourself to the many other aspects of applications -- especially essay writing.
2. Define your career goals. Every school will ask you about your short and long-term career goals. These must be realistic, yet ambitious.
3. Select your schools of interest. This ties into your career goals. Figure out where you want to apply. I recommend applying to about 4-6 schools -- 2 schools that are a fit based on your GPA, GMAT, and work experience; and 2-4 schools that are more of a reach. I've said it numerous times, but I honestly did not expect to get accepted to HBS or Stanford. The odds seemed crazy. The only way to be accepted is to apply.
4. Finish the "little things" early. Having not needed to apply to a job or program in a few years, I had let my resume become outdated. Every school will ask for your resume. Update it now so that you don't have to worry about it later when you are swamped with other stuff.
5. Brainstorm essay ideas. When I needed a mental break from GMAT studying, I would spend some time casually jotting down bullet points regarding how I would respond to various essay topics. This way, I still felt like I was being productive, but I was able to escape the misery of Data Sufficiency. Even if the essay topics for all of your schools aren't yet available, there are some common questions that you'll need to be able to answer at some point, i.e. What's the biggest obstacle/challenge you've faced? What's your greatest leadership experience? What are your strengths/weaknesses?
If you have any other strategies to prepare early for applications, feel free to post a comment below.