I originally met Vicky in February 2020 (note: client photo and name have been changed to preserve anonymity). She was hard at work on her GMAT and told me that she would be sure to contact me as soon as she got the grade she needed. Her target: Stanford.
Well, on August 8th of the same year, I finally get the call from Vicky: “Hey, I got a 720! What are the next steps for Round 1?” That was a big question to ask with roughly 30 days left before the deadline (not to mention she wanted to work on 4 additional schools!). Naturally, I asked Vicky how much research she had done and what parts of the application she had worked on. Her reply? “I looked at the sites.”
We were facing an uphill battle, so it was vital that we be methodical and strategic. Here’s what we did for Stanford GSB (we followed similar strategies for the other programs we applied to):
Step 1 – Planning
After we had thoroughly discussed the costs/benefits of delaying to Round 2, Vicky and I began to work on a detailed game plan. We needed to map out everything that she had to accomplish, condensing six months of work into a single month. Every free minute, including the ‘vacation’ time she took, was accounted for and arranged in order of necessity and risk. We needed to make sure that no time was wasted and the non-submission risk, from us and the recommenders, was absolutely minimized.
Step 2 – Research & Execution
To start, Vicky aggressively research Stanford’s program and identified how it connected with her career objectives. Before we could be specific, we needed to be holistic. Once, she understood Stanford and its culture, we began to approach the missing pieces of the application. We identified general themes for the CV, essays, and recommendation letters. Vicky reached out to the recommenders, secured them, and communicated the necessary themes. Then we went piece by piece building out the CV and essays. With little time to redraft, we spent extensive time on choosing and developing the topics and stories, before we invested resources into drafting and editing.
Step 3 – Review
This step was crucial. Mistakes are almost always present at first during a rush, so you need to review every single piece of information for impact, accuracy, grammar, and spelling. When applying to a Top MBA program anything that makes the application seem carelessly done can spell disaster for the applicant. In terms of major rewrites, while we didn’t need to conduct any, we continued to make minor changes until the day before submission, making sure to improve the aesthetics and the message. Once everything was ready, we took a small amount of time off and then came back to do one final major review.
Finally, all that was left, with a few hours to spare, was to submit and wait. This was the hardest part for Vicky. An application takes a lot out of a person, especially one that’s done over a short period of time.
Happily, soon enough, her interview invitation came. And, one successful interview later, she was accepted to Stanford. Vicky’s parting advice on the matter: “I wish I’d started in June.”
A perfect application takes time, but life doesn’t always provide us with it. However, a great application takes a strategy and that you can always have control over.
Looking to apply to Stanford in Round 1? Be sure to reach out to us to find out how you can beat the odds.