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Timing your application right – 9 golden tips for the holiday season

19 December 2023

The article at a glance

As we enter the holiday season, we speak to our MBA Admissions team and prepare some tips and insights for you, to help with your Business School applications this festive period.

Category: News Programme news

Applying for an MBA requires careful planning and execution. Here are some tips to help you navigate the application process during this festive time:

1. Plan your time carefully to meet deadlines

The holiday season can be busy with celebrations and family gatherings. Plan your time well to make sure you have enough time for your MBA application.

“Take the opportunity of the quieter holiday season to refocus and assess your goals and aspirations for your MBA,” says Emily Brierley, Head of MBA Admissions and Recruitment.  

2. Make time for some thorough research

Use this time to learn a lot about your chosen MBA programme. Understand the various course elements. For example, at Cambridge Judge Business School, we offer Electives and Concentrations that allow you to carefully tailor your learning across the one-year MBA programme. Consider the faculty and teaching at your chosen school. What skills and experience do they offer and what global insights and expertise do they bring to the MBA curriculum?

Look carefully at the location of your MBA. The city and wider university community and experience are very important in your decision making. Does the experience and location make it the right programme for your future career needs?

Sadia Cuthbert, Director of CJBS Careers, suggests that if you are preparing to apply to a business school, “Think a little further and wider about your current role and how you can really maximise your experiences and impact there, to really improve your profile when you come to apply.

“Can you make progress in leading a project? Are there new global experiences you can become involved in? Can you show more engagement in developing colleagues or people working for you?”

3. Make connections and start building your network

Talk to people who are already on the programme or have recently graduated. Use social media, online groups, or events to reach out to them and make connections, as they are happy to connect and talk about the memorable MBA year they experienced. They can also give you some tips and insights that will help you with your application.

Looking at alumni profiles and graduate career stories across social media channels and school websites will help you build a picture of possible career paths that may fit with your own goals and ambitions after the MBA.

4. Review funding and scholarships available

A wide range of scholarship and bursary opportunities are available from Cambridge Judge Business School, the University of Cambridge, the Colleges, and external sources.

For some of our scholarships, the Round 3 deadline on 8 January is the last available round for that specific scholarship to be available. Be sure to check carefully through our scholarship pages for the relevant deadlines at Cambridge Judge, as well as those scholarships from the wider University of Cambridge.

5. Be ready to submit your GMAT/GRE scores

All applicants need to submit their own GMAT or GRE result in time for their Cambridge MBA application. You should also ask the test provider to make your official score report available to us online. We won’t be able to review your application until we have checked that your scores are valid.

Cambridge looks for balanced scores across all sectors of the exam to identify students who are well prepared for the academic rigours of the MBA curriculum.

Intellectual ability and mindset are key to our admissions requirements, but we value diversity and understand the variety of international experiences and opportunities our candidates may have faced. If you only meet some of the application criteria, but still think you’re a good fit, read our apply page to learn more about exceptions we may make.

6. Take the time to think about your goals

The holidays are a good time to think about what you want to do in your career and life. Think about why you want to do the Cambridge MBA and what you want to achieve during the year ahead. Write down your goals in a way that shows you have a clear plan; this will help you frame your essays and your career statement post-MBA as you craft your application for the Round 3 deadline in the New Year.

7. Update your online profile and review your CV

While it is important to use the holiday to restore our minds a little, it is also the perfect opportunity to step out of the daily routine and look further into the future. Look outside your own country or sector and take the time to read more widely about world trends, from healthcare to corporate finance or environmental issues. What is the world talking about, and what trends and factors may shape your own area of interest? What other employment sectors may have lessons to share for your own future sector development? Some of the best ideas have been adapted from one industry sector to another.

“It is important to still network and be mindful of the opportunities that present themselves. Take the time to review and update your LinkedIn profile,” continues Sadia from CJBS Careers.

“Make sure your CV shows the full breadth of what you have done in your career, as well as achievements within your personal life, and ensure that it really highlights the skills and projects you have really succeeded at in your career. Adapt your CV to ensure it reflects the skills and experience that your chosen programme is looking for.”

You might also pay attention to the language that your target MBA programme uses, reflecting some of the same words and language style can help give the Admissions team a feeling of comfort and familiarity when they read it, and it might help you stand out – while remaining authentic to yourself and your own MBA goals.

Make sure you demonstrate how you have grown in your previous career and what skills and global insights you can bring to the MBA community. How can you add to the rich diversity of the class and how do you hope to stand out in the next MBA cohort in 2024?

8. Don’t leave it to the last minute

Try to send in your application before the last day. This will give you extra time in case there are any queries or even technical delays.

You might wish to allow some time to get feedback from your friends or family, or that alumnus you have connected with on LinkedIn. Ask people you trust to read your application and tell you what they think. They can help you review and improve the final application before you submit it.

9. Finally, take care of yourself, rest and reflect

Applying for an MBA can be stressful. Make sure you take breaks and take care of yourself. Get enough rest to stay focused and do your best. Remember that applying to an MBA programme is a big task. If you plan well and do things carefully, it will help you make a good application. Good luck!

The Cambridge MBA Admissions team will be available from 3 January 2024, before the Round 3 deadline on 8 January. So, keep in touch with your admissions contact and we will support you as much as possible during your application.