mba-deadlinesJust about ready to turn in your MBA applications? Maybe you’re still putting the finishing touches on your essays, or waiting for your recommenders to upload their writeups. Use this last-minute checklist to help you finish–and finesse–the best round one business school applications possible:

Check in With Your Recommenders

It has already happened to us again this year: one of our clients didn’t take our advice to give his recommenders a “fake deadline” several days before the real deadline. Minutes before the application was due, the recommender was still having trouble uploading the file, out of the country, and not returning calls. Fortunately, HBS was kind enough to offer a 24-hour grace period, but that is not the situation you want to find yourself in amist your other deadline stresses.

Don’t be shy about checking in with your recommenders. While you want to give them ample time and show them tremendous gratitude, it is ultimately your project to manage and your deliverable in the end.

Fill out the Data Form

Often, MBA applicants will wait until the last possible moment to fill out the data form (a.k.a. part one) and then find out the hard way that there were lots of short answer questions buried within it. What are your post-MBA career goals in 250 words? What was the greatest challenge in your current position in 250 characters? What was your reason for leaving your past jobs? Questions that require substantial thought. Questions that might have impacted what they wrote in their essays.

Admissions will be looking for thoughtful answers to these questions, and they will not be impressed by cookie-cutter or sloppy responses. So work on them as diligently as the rest of the application, and make sure they’re equally as polished.

Get Two Fresh Sets of Eyes

Before hitting submit, we recommend having two people review your b-school applications who haven’t seen it yet. They don’t need to be MBA experts. In fact, at this stage, you aren’t looking for any feedback on content. You just want someone you trust who can proofread for grammatical errors, double-check that you filled out everything, and didn’t put the wrong school name into the application.

Prepare for Second Round Deadlines

Now that you’ve built momentum from round one applications, keep on going. If you’re ultimtely accepted to your first round choices, congratulations! If not, you’ll have used these months wisely to prepare for plan B and have stellar applications all ready to submit to your next round of schools without last-minute scrambling.

[For help with preparing your business school applications, or for general MBA admissions advice, contact us at]

© Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting, September 24, 2014, 12:00pm MT