Now that we’re in the middle of summer, I can definitely say application season has begun. No longer am I so early that I’m vying with round three candidates for time when asking students and admissions people questions. In fact, all my target schools have released essays, with Fuqua posting their questions earlier this week. I’ve come to the realization that it is officially my (and yours, fellow applicants) turn to be in the pressure cooker known as application season.
On the bright side, as I mentioned all my essays are released. I’m still slogging (that is a technical term) through my first few schools, but I’m happy with the pace I’m on, especially considering that the pace should improve as I get better at this. While I don’t have anything close to submit, I think I’m on the right track with some of the stories I’ve chosen – that is the important part. Hopefully by next post, I’ll have at least one school completed. I plan on not submitting until I’ve had a chance to write all my round 1 essays, then going back and reviewing from start to finish, so as my quality increases, I won’t shortchange the schools essays which I chose to write earlier in the process. The challenge will be leaving enough time to allow for this review. We shall see.
Beyond essays, I’ve also been working on recommendations. I recommend you do too. No really, I don’t mean to say write your own recommendation – that isn’t very ethical. I mean not only asking your recommenders to help you out,but also I mean writing up a guide for your recommenders to follow. I’ve made great progress on both to date. I have 3 of my planned 4 recommenders on board – with a 5th on standby..just in case :) I figure I’ll have each do 2-3 schools, which seems like a reasonable amount of work to request. Moreover, all my recommenders seemed excited about helping me out – one of the benefits of being open about your MBA plans with your employer, though I understand that isn’t feasible for everyone. I’ve also built up a generic guide for my recommenders, and am in the process of tweaking the guide for each individual. I hope to have that done this week, which is perfect timing, as applications are starting to go live, so recommenders will be able to access their part of the application. I love it when things come together.
Finally, I have booked my first interview! Fuqua is awesome enough to have an open interview period in September and early October for candidates to self-initiate interviews with the program before the interviews become invite only. I highly recommend you take part if you know that Fuqua is a school that you’ll apply to as I’m sure the initiative won’t go unnoticed. That said, if you’re not sure what you’re going to write in your essays yet, it may be best to wait. Cohesion is paramount: You definitely don’t want to tell a different story in your interview than your application. In addition to my interview, I have a full itinerary planned with a tour, lunch with current students, an academic panel, and Fuqua Friday. It will be a busy 2 day trip, but hopefully very worth it. Beyond Fuqua, I’m definitely planning on doing the same type of trip/interview at Tuck when they release their scheduling for interviews. Every other school on my list is invite only, though it’d be nice to get two interviews down at my own schedule.
Speaking of – that is another benefit of doing open interview period – cost. While trips to schools aren’t cheap (hotel, car, food, travel…), it definitely pays to book early. I have 2 days in Durham for under $350 because I booked it 2 months in advance. I could probably have gone cheaper, if I took up some generous offers to couch surf, but alas, I value a bed on a night before an interview. If I had waited to (hopefully) get my invite from Fuqua, I would be booking this trip last minute, and probably paying 2 or 3 times the amount. Like all things MBA, it pays to be early.