When I started applying to school, I was a bit overwhelmed by how much information there was to keep track of. I’d poke around different schools’ application requirements, read their blogs, and didn’t have a great system to keep track of everything I was looking at.
So I built my tracking docs (or Trapper Keepers, for any other 90s kids out there who loved Lisa Frank) not just to trap information, but also to help guide me through building my application story.
My Trapper Keepers
I started out by creating a few different tracking documents when I started applying and ended up casting a couple of them by the wayside as I went along. But here they all are, in case they’re helpful to you!
This first document was how I kept track of all of the essay questions and application requirements for each school. (Click the images to download the source documents.)
This next one captures information about each school’s strengths, desired applicants, curriculum, extracurriculars, employment stats, and feedback from info interviews / campus visits. At the end you write your positioning statement for each school. This was particularly helpful while prepping for interviews!
I also created an Excel grid to track deadlines (but didn’t end up using it). This grid also has tabs for school stats and for notes on school culture, curriculum, etc.
Other Trapper Keepers
Of course, everyone’s got their own style. TopDogMBA (love his blog, please give it a visit) created a really great “Application Masterplan” application-tracking document (which I highly recommend checking out) and time management grid to help him stay on top of all of his info.
If you wanted to go above and beyond, you could also create a document to draft responses to your short-answer questions, and / or add them to your planning grids. I drafted my short answers in a separate document:
- Activities: Organization, Title, Time (hrs/week), Description
- Awards: Name, Description
- Work: Why did you leave this position?
- Work: Company, Title, Dates, Duties (250 characters for Anderson and Kellogg)
- Work: Duties, Most Significant Challenge, Most Significant Accomplishment (320 characters for Stanford)
You’ll of course adjust the questions and include word and character counts based on your applications. You’ll find that you can recycle a lot of these short answers for multiple applications. You can word count easily in Word, or you can do it in Excel with some clever formula-ing.
Hope this all helps you get your MBA ducks in a row!
Image courtesy of Mead.