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Take the time you need to prepare your MBA application

Yes, we have an early and late application deadline. But don’t force your application early. There’s no disadvantage to meeting the second deadline.

‘Tis the season. We expect to launch The Consortium’s common application on Saturday for us and our 18 member schools. One of the benefits of seeking a The Consortium membership is the opportunity to apply through our website’s common application to up to six MBA programs for $300.

So, the application period begins. The first-round application deadline is Oct. 15, so you’ve got two months to make sure your application is in tip-top shape. But the truth is, only about 20 percent of our applications arrive by that first-round deadline.

The bulk of last year’s 1,075 applications arrived in time for the second-round deadline of Jan. 5. And here’s a little secret: You’ll suffer no disadvantage if you meet the second application deadline instead of the first.

Sure, you may find out sooner whether the MBA program of your choice has accepted you. But the most important thing is to make sure your application is thorough, complete and says what you want it to say.

We know you’re already busy in the work-world. You have jobs and personal lives — and often, families — to juggle while you’re preparing your MBA application. So this message is simply to reassure you: Take the time you need to get that application done right. Don’t try to hit the early deadline if you’re not ready.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind as you prepare your application.

Know thyself. Forbes magazine advises applicants take the time to consider what makes them stand out. “How have you impacted the world, and how will you continue to do so?”

Why an MBA? Similarly, applicants should be very clear about why an MBA is important to their career goals. “The more concrete detail you can provide,” Forbes writes, “the better admissions officers will understand your rationale for pursuing an MBA, and the more likely it is that they will decide to invest a space in their class in you.”

Nail the essays. MBA.com, the official site of the GMAT, notes that the essays are singularly important. Failing to answer the questions that are asked, rambling and poor spelling and grammar are, obviously, no-nos. Clearly explaining how your interests fits the focus of a particular school, or how a particular course of study will benefit you post-MBA are vital.

Fill the gaps. Be critical of your own resume. What gaps can you find, not only in your work history, but your involvement outside of work? Forbes notes that if you’ve got three years of work experience, but few extracurricular activities, you’ll need to be able to explain that, or take the time to fill it out.

Get those recommendations. If you haven’t already cultivated relationships with mentors, instructors, employers, volunteer supervisors or other community leaders, get busy. You’ll need those recommendations. If you’ve been in contact with them, asking for their feedback on your work and your contributions, Kaplan’s Business School Insider says, most of them will be flattered to be asked to contribute to your application.

Share your passion. Isser Gallogly, assistant dean of MBA admissions at NYU Stern School of Business, was just interviewed for an article in Poets & Quants. He’s read thousands of essays. “You can tell which essays are coming from a place of passion, excitement, and authenticity,” he said. “What it needs to be is an honest statement about what you’re passionate about.”

Know where you’re going. Gallogly shares a related point: You should be clearly heading toward something, not away from something. He hears applicants say they don’t like what they’re, and they’re hoping that by getting an MBA, it will help them figure out what’s next. “An MBA’s a great place to make it happen,” he said. “It’s not the optimal place to figure it out.”

Discuss the Three Cs. Finally, remember that the MBA application is about three things, Gallogly says: The classroom (how you’ve performed and can expect to perform); your career (what you’ve done professionally); and your character (what you’ve done outside the first two Cs).

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