If you’re currently going through a bit of a motivation slump in your pursuit of the MBA degree, I have news for you, you’re not alone. In my last 7 years as an admissions consultant, I have seen this pattern repeat itself over and over, without fail. The same candidates coming into the new year with their eyes on the prize start to lose a little steam around the beginning of June.
1. Summer time and the living’s easy
I get it. You’re either just coming back from your vacation, getting ready for your vacation or currently on your vacation. Or your boss is on vacation, which is pretty close to being on vacation. Have we talked about summer vacations yet?
Who has time to think about that MBA (that you’ve wanted for years) when the weather is this good?
2. Deadlines are in the “dead zone”
Round 1 application deadlines for the most popular programs are about 3 months away as I write this. “Who can’t write a few essays and a resume in three months?” There’s a bizarre psychology at work here. The same candidate that was full of determination coming out of the new year in mid-January now can’t be bothered. MBA applications have moved from becoming something you want to do, to something you have to do.
And that rebellious teenager inside us all is saying, “Well, what if I don’t wanna?”
Unlike your work responsibilities, no one is going to get on your case if you slack off on your MBA applications. If you were a procrastinator in undergrad (raises hand), now is a great time to break the habit.
3. Your support network has disappeared
Your friend from college who applied last year has been admitted, made her decision, paid the deposit and is taking a well deserved break from thinking about anything B school. Your best friend’s older brother who started last year is now at his summer internship and thinking more about work than school. If you visited a school recently, the classrooms were empty and it just isn’t as easy to catch the vibe as it was earlier in the spring.
Seems like even the activity on the MBA messageboards are down compared to the excitement of the last few months with results coming out. For sure, things will heat up again soon, but will you wait until then to begin?
Whatever the case may be, I want to humbly submit to you that this period is the time that separates the contenders from the champions. You could very well be close to the finish line in terms of how much work you have left, but that doesn’t mean you should take it easy now.
Look, I’m not trying to turn this into a doom and gloom scenario. It is true that, particularly if you have your GMAT sorted, you still have time to put together some really great R1 apps. It’s also true that R2 is not that much worse than R1 (although R1 is the best). But I think we can agree that you’d be BETTER off putting in consistent effort over the next few months rather than rushing it all in the last 30 days.
1. Get in touch with your “Why”
Applying to business school is hard. The admissions consulting industry wouldn’t exist if it was easy. It’s full of confusion, fear and doubt. It can be an intellectually and emotionally bruising process. But somewhere deep down inside you is the original spark that made you want this in the first place. Fan that flame! It has the power to get you through this.
Try writing down the reasons you want an MBA. Writing it on a computer is fine, but for best results, try writing them with pen and paper. You should be able to get to 5 reasons easily. If you can make it to 10 reasons, you’re probably pretty well in touch with your motivation for applying to business school. Now fold up that paper and keep it in your wallet. Keeping it close by will be helpful when you really just want to do anything else but work on B school apps.
2. Vent a little
Sometimes it’s ok to just let it out.
I have yet to meet the applicant that did not, at some point of this process, need to vent to someone that could relate. If you have a friend going through the same thing, don’t be afraid to let your guard down and tell them how you really feel. If you’re looking to make some new friends that you can let your hair down with, this might be a good time to join the r/MBA Discord server. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite online communities for MBA applicants.
3. Talk to more people
One of the things I’m often surprised by (with reapplicants, in particular) is how few people from a particular school they will have spoken to before applying. The more people you can talk to from your target schools, or their peers, the better handle you’ll have on what to expect when you eventually enroll. There’s really no substitute for that kind of preparation, so if you’re finding yourself losing interest in the more technical aspects of the process, this could be a great time to reach out to alumni or current students at your target schools to get a friendly conversation going. These people tend to be much more willing to talk than you might think.
4. Start writing
You’ve probably noticed that applications are starting to open, which means essay questions are being released. You want to put a lot of thought into your final essay, but you have to start somewhere. Writing a first draft of your essay in a completely improvisational way, ignoring all of the “rules” and even being completely ridiculous can be a great way to get the juices flowing. Shake your sillies out.
I’ll never forget one of my favorite clients submitting a mock Stanford essay for my review, “What matters most to me is getting into B school so I can quit my boring job and impress my obnoxious friends.” We had a good laugh, it provoked discussion and a few of the themes actually made it into the final essay.
5. Assume success
Ask yourself a simple question; What would you be doing differently if you knew for 100% sure that you were headed to your dream school next fall? Would you set different priorities for your last year at work? Would you start planning for that dream hiking trip through Patagonia that you’ve always wanted? Would you start getting engaged in a hobby that you could better fulfill when you get to school?
One of the best ways to get into the groove is imagining that everything will work out exactly as you want, and acting like it. Obviously, I’m not suggesting you should make any irreversible decisions. But what you can do is have a little faith in yourself, your abilities and that you will end up at the right school for you. I’m not so superstitious to think that self-belief alone can get you what you want, but it definitely creates the environment that allows you to perform your best.
Let me know in the comments below if any of this resonates with you. If this helps even one applicant think differently or get unstuck, it will have been worth my time to write. And, of course, if you want a free consultation with me just click here to tell me a little about you, and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.