The MBA application process can seem daunting before you begin. However, if you plan your time well, you can complete your application in only a week. Below, the Vanderbilt MBA Recruiting and Admissions team shares a day-by-day guide on how to submit an MBA application in just seven days.
Day 1: Get Organized
This is the day you’ll skim through the application requirements and create a checklist to guide you along your application process. First, reach out to several potential recommenders, just in case one of them will be unable to do it. Next, fill out the part of the application that requires your name, employment information, activities, etc. If you haven’t already, order your transcript and test scores.
Day 2: Résumé Building
Résumés set the stage for the application. “Keep in mind that the resume is the first thing that the admissions officer usually looks at. So you want to make sure that it leaves a lasting impression of yourself,” said Kim Killingsworth, Director of International Recruiting and Relations.
Start off by brainstorming your responsibilities and achievements. Focus on your achievements — you want to quantify the results of your efforts by being very specific: for example, say you “led a team of 10” and “increased sales by 150%” instead of “managed people” or “improved sales.” Next, research different résumé formats, choose one, and begin filling in the template. As you draft your résumé, include everything since this stage is just brainstorming — you’ll cut your résumé down to a page on Day 4.
Day 3: Work on Your Story
For your essays, Zeke Arteaga, Associate Director of Recruiting and Admissions and lead Diversity Recruiter, recommends that thinking about your story in terms of past, present, and future. “Think about the things that got you to where you're at today: extracurricular activities, where you grew up, the influence that maybe your parents had on you, or what makes you unique,” he said. “Thinking about why the Vanderbilt MBA is going to help you get to where you want to go next in your future is going to be important.”
As you draft your statement, it’s also beneficial to drawn on any interactions with the school: checking out their website, talking to current students, or visiting campus. This shows that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in this specific program.
Day 4: Look with Fresh Eyes
You’re halfway there! Today, you’ll edit your résumé down to one page. As you decide what to keep and what to leave out, remember how important it is to highlight your transferable skills. “You're going to be able to take on the next job, even if it's a different function or industry. So that could be communicating with executives or how you influence team members,” Arteaga said.
Once you’re done editing your résumé, go back to your personal statements and make sure you answered the questions completely and didn’t go off topic. Being focused and concise is key in this section of your application since you have a tight word count.
Day 5: Complete Checklist Items
Review the checklist you made on Day 1 again and finalize any items you haven’t completed, including your recommendation letters. The application will also likely require that you film a video essay in addition to your written statements.
“We want video essays because a lot of employers now are doing video interviews, so we want to see how well you perform before the camera. It also gives our whole committee the chance to get to know who you are, rather than just the one admissions officer who may have interviewed you,” said Christie St-John, Director of MBA Recruiting.
Practice recording yourself so you’ll get used to sitting in front of a camera before you have to make the final version. After completing the video essay, upload the essay as well as your transcripts, then go back and proofread the whole application.
Day 6: Grab a Friend (Or Two)
The finish line is near. Call a friend or two, order some food, and have them read your essay responses. Don’t tell them what the questions were ahead of time; have them guess to make sure you stayed on topic. If they’re not able to guess the correct questions, go back and tweak your essays. If they’re willing, it’s also helpful to get an extra set of proofreading eyes on the other parts of your application.
Day 7: Submit
Give everything one last look. Take a deep breath, then hit submit and pay your application fee. Congratulations! You’ve made it through the week of completing an MBA application. It’s time to celebrate and relax, so go out to a nice dinner or watch your favorite TV show for some well-deserved rest.
For a more detailed explanation of each step of the application process broken out over 7 days, view our day-by-day guide.