Author: Texas McCombs MBA (page 1 of 22)

When Should You Submit Your MBA Application?

The 2020-2021 Full-Time MBA application will open soon, and the Admissions Committee is accepting applications in four rounds this cycle. We usually receive questions about application deadlines and whether or not it matters when you submit your application– Round 1, 2, 3 or 4.

You should NEVER rush to submit your MBA application simply to take advantage of “more spots.” – The Admissions Committee’s best application round advice

Timing is a key factor in your overall application strategy. A lot of details go into deciding which round to apply, and one answer is not right for everyone. So, let’s break it down by round so you can get a clearer picture of when might be the best time for you to hit “Submit.”

Round One

Round 1 is a good choice for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is our first priority scholarship deadline– If you want to be considered for all merit-based scholarships, Round 1 is your best shot. As each round closes, our scholarship funding pool decreases.
  2.  All of our spots are still available! Plus, historically we’ve received fewer applications in R1 than in R2.

But, the best piece of advice for any round is that you should NEVER rush to submit your MBA application simply to take advantage of “more spots” or “more funding.”  Once you submit your application, you cannot “re-submit” a stronger application in a later round for the same term of entry. If you skip important preparation, including a formal test prep, articulating your “why MBA,” or conducting research just to be able to submit in Round 1, you could end up with a test score and application that doesn’t reflect you at your best.

In any case, submitting in Round 1 might not be a good idea, especially if you know that you can improve a component of your application. Waiting to apply until all aspects of your application are strong is always the best approach.

Round Two

Applying later is okay, too! If we filled up the class in Round 1, the Admissions Committee might be out of a job by February. Round 2 is traditionally our largest round, and receives many strong applicants. Scholarships and fellowships are still available and all information and data included in your application help the Admission Committee allocate scholarship awards. In short: A strong application will stand out in any round.

Round Three

Round 3 tends to be a smaller round. Many applicants in Round 3 simply didn’t realize an MBA was an option or on their radar until later in the application cycle. Historically, we always have spots available in Round 3 (which is why we have a Round 3), but each year the number variesWe can’t say it enough– A strong, complete, well-researched application always stands out.

It’s also worth noting that for international students this is the last round to apply.

Round Four

Round 4 is the newest round– an opportunity for those in a similar situation as Round 3, and for those not wanting to wait until next cycle. Many of the applicants who apply in this round are engaging in the MBA process later due to career, life, and employment changes or goals. Others will apply in this round because they are ready to start in the fall rather than waiting another year. Due to the limited and competitive nature of funding, one can expect a decrease in scholarship availability.

Before you hit “Submit,” points to keep in mind:

  • Submit your application only when you’re 99.9% ready. Supplemental application materials submitted after a round deadline are risky, since there is no guarantee the Admissions Committee will see them. Once your file is read, we will not re-review again based upon new information received post-deadline.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute! We are not able to accept applications submitted after 11:59pm CT on the day of the deadline. Technical difficulties plague applicants every round, every year. Stay aware of deadlines the best you can, so you don’t become a cautionary tale. In the interest of a fair process, we don’t make exceptions to our deadlines, no matter what reason you have for a late submission.
  • Be patient. The Admissions Committee does not begin reviewing applications until the round deadline has passed. In other words, you might be far ahead and submit your application in August, but we won’t begin reviewing any submissions until after the Round 1 deadline in October.
  • The Admissions Committee does not provide individual feedback on applications, out of fairness to all applicants and due to the volume of requests we receive.

If you feel good about your application, we encourage you to apply but if you aren’t ready yet (i.e.: You need to retake your GMAT/GRE, rework your essay, or wait for a promotion at work to come through), don’t risk it– wait until you’re confident in your application before hitting the “Submit” button.

We look forward to reviewing your application this year, and are always here to answer your questions about applying. Hook ’em!

Successfully Answering the MBA Essay Questions

The essays in your MBA application are an important part of sharing your unique story. The most successful essays thoughtfully address the prompts, clearly communicate why you want to attend Texas McCombs, and authentically share who you are. We’ve shared some tips below to aid you in submitting a strong set of essays.

Texas McCombs MBA Essay 1

We will learn a lot about your professional background through your resume and letter of recommendation, but we want to get to know you further. Please introduce yourself. Select only one communication method for your response

a. Write an essay (250 words)
b. Share a video introduction (one minute in length)

First, this prompt is purposely open-ended. It grants you the freedom to introduce yourself in a way that is genuinely “you.” Think about what gives you energy and recharges you. When you first meet someone, what’s your personal elevator pitch? How does it share your values? Give us a well-rounded mix of information in this essay so we can better understand you beyond your work life.

Don’t forget about the first sentence of the prompt: “We will learn a lot about your professional background through your resume and letter of recommendation.” The admissions committee already read your resume, letter of recommendation, education history, and goals. While your professional life is important, this essay is your opportunity to share who you are outside of those components.

Finally, the choice is yours: written essay or video. We have seen significant success with both mediums and do not have a preference of one over the other. Therefore, play to your strengths! If your skill is in writing, focus on the essay. If you’re not shy in front of a camera, then record a video. However, if you do submit a video, keep in mind that sending us a photo slideshow isn’t advisable. These slideshow submissions don’t grant the admissions committee the chance to actually see and hear from you, which is really what we are looking for in a video submission. Have fun with either submission, and do not take this essay for granted— it can go a long way in setting the stage for your MBA application and creating another great impression.

Texas McCombs MBA Essay 2

Picture yourself at the completion of your MBA journey. Describe how you spent your time as a Texas McCombs MBA student to achieve your personal and professional goals. (500 words)

Essay Two provides an opportunity to explain why you’re applying to Texas McCombs. By describing what you’re excited for and your plans as an MBA, we will understand your career plan, learn what you’re passionate about, and discover how you want to develop yourself both in and out of the classroom.

What classes, organizations, and experiential opportunities specifically relate to your career plan? Personally, how do you envision yourself becoming an active member of our community? Connect the dots between your goals and how McCombs will get you there.

Make sure to give us specifics. If you’ve engaged with the program, you know there is a lot to look forward to: challenging classes, concentrations, organizations, student/alumni networking, award-winning professors, unique career-oriented opportunities, a vibrant city…the list goes on. Illustrate what attributes of the program you plan to take full advantage of and how you plan to make a positive impact while you are a student. What will be your MBA legacy? Convince us that you are indispensable to our community.

MBA Optional Statement

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Who Should Write Your MBA Recommendation?

The Texas McCombs MBA application requires one professional letter of recommendation from a person who has supervised your work and/or has assessed your performance during your career.

A recommendation letter is one of the only things you rely on someone else to provide in your application. Circumstances differ for every applicant and deciding who you should ask will vary.  Below are some scenarios to help guide you in choosing the best recommender your application.

Your Supervisor

Your current direct supervisor is traditionally the best choice. This is likely the person in your network that knows your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. However, this may not be a viable option for you.  Perhaps you aren’t able to communicate to your employer that you’re applying to business school or you do not work with your direct boss that closely. It could also be that you attained a new role recently and your current supervisor has not had a chance to work with you very much. Or,  you’re an entrepreneur & don’t have a supervisor.

All of these are valid reasons to look for other recommendation sources, but remember that if you do not ask your current supervisor to write your recommendation letter, we do ask that you explain your choice in the Optional Statement.

Your Former Supervisor

If you cannot ask your current direct supervisor to write your recommendation, maybe you can ask a previous supervisor? Depending on how recently you worked with them, the “old boss” may be the best choice, especially if you had a strong professional relationship with that person. This is also a very common option.

Your Indirect Supervisor

Asking an indirect supervisor can another option, especially if you’ve worked with this person closely on past assignments or long-term projects.  This is a nice alternative to a supervisor that you may not work with closely.

Your Client or Vendor

This type of recommendation source is especially useful for entrepreneurs or for applicants who work for a family business.

If you work for a family business, it is preferred that you ask an individual outside of your family to write your letter of recommendation.

Your Mentor

Mentors inside or outside of your workplace are great to have in your corner when it comes time to apply to business school. However, be sure that your mentor has a clear understanding of your current professional value, not just your potential or future goals. Select a mentor with whom you have worked with on measurable tasks to ensure that they will provide a recommendation with depth. Often, mentor recommendations are submitted as an optional secondary recommendation. Keep in mind that the admissions committee is looking for someone who has worked with you professionally.

Other Options

There are many individuals who may fall in the category of “other recommenders.” For example, a former professor, a colleague or a coach.

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Considering Your MBA
in Uncertain Times

Dave Jackson is the Senior Admissions Officer for the Texas McCombs MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth program and is a proud McCombs MBA alumnus . He has 20 years of experience in journalism, public relations, and communication. Dave graduated from the MBA program in 2010 amidst the Great Recession. Here, he provides a personal perspective of his time in the program that may be helpful to those currently evaluating an MBA amongst the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. 

Dave Jackson Headshot

Dave Jackson, Senior Admissions Officer of MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth

I remember sitting in a conference room in the Fall of 2008, in my first year of the Texas McCombs MBA at DFW program. For those who remember that time, we were in the midst of one of the worst recessions in our country’s history as the subprime mortgage crisis brought the financial system to its knees.

The alum standing at the front of the room talking to our class asked, “Who thinks this is a good time to be looking for a job?”

None of us even gave a thought to raising our hands. Most of us were more worried about keeping the jobs we had, let alone finding something new.

He looked at his audience of skeptics and said, “I would argue that this is the best time of all to be looking for a job. Because companies are only hiring people for positions that they know will add value. And those are the jobs you want.”

One simple argument changed our whole perspective on what appeared to be a bleak economic situation.

Now we’re facing another crisis – a public health challenge combined with an economic one. And it’s perfectly rational to ask: Is now the right time to make an investment in an MBA?

This is ultimately a personal question: Everyone has their own set of criteria for what makes a good investment and when is the right time to make it.

Here are a few things to consider:

Return on InvestmentJust as investment advisors recommend that you invest your money for the long-term, recognize that you have many more years ahead in your career and your MBA will pay off over a long period of time. But in thinking more specifically about payback, the most recent GMAC survey of business school alumni found high-levels of both satisfaction and return among both full-time and part-time graduates. Employers value the MBA and despite an uncertain hiring environment, there will be opportunities for good candidates in the future. Additionally McCombs was named No. 1 Best Value among top 20 business schools by U.S. News and World Report, based on the gap between average starting salaries and debt.

NetworkRemember that the concepts of return and value are two different things. While return is more easily quantifiable and you should expect a reasonable payback period, you begin accruing value with your MBA from the day you start, and you continue to accrue that value over the rest of your life. A big part of that value comes from the network you build with your classmates and alumni. As a McCombs student, you instantly join a powerful and passionate network of 500,000+ University of Texas at Austin and 100,000+ McCombs alumni who are eager to help their fellow Longhorns. Being surrounded by a group of smart, goal-oriented, diverse and downright interesting people will give you new perspectives on how to do your work differently, provide you with new tools for solving problems and give you connections (and friendships) that will always be with you throughout your career.

Knowledge Another main source of value in an MBA is the knowledge you gain, which has no expiration date. MBA faculty are the best in their fields, and they also recognize the strength of knowledge in the room. They know how to facilitate discussion and draw on the expertise of you and your fellow students. At McCombs we are fortunate to have extraordinary breadth across academic disciplines, as one of only five schools in the nation to rank in the top 20 across 11 or more U.S. News graduate business specialties. Additionally our faculty have been named top 10 Best Professors by The Princeton Review for 10 of the last 11 years, based on feedback from students about teaching quality and accessibility outside the classroom. We assume that everyone seeking an MBA aspires to be a leader, and our curriculum is geared toward preparing you for leadership. As we’re learning each day, strong leadership skills and empathy are critical in difficult times to ensure that our businesses, organizations, and team members are prepared to get through difficult challenges. As an MBA graduate, you will be well-equipped to play a leading role in solving the next crisis we face as a society.

Perspective Finally, it’s important to recognize that the current environment, while difficult and unprecedented, is temporary. The world economy has weathered many challenges over its long history. And while the “when” isn’t clear, things will get better. It’s important to consider whether waiting to pursue your MBA is worth the opportunity cost of missing out on the benefits you can start receiving sooner.

Warren Buffett, a child of the Great Depression who has become one of the world’s greatest investors in good times and bad, has said, “By far the best investment you can make is in yourself.”

An MBA is an investment that will pay off over a long time horizon, in ways both easy to measure and less tangible but still significant. So if you’re thinking about whether these turbulent times are right for making the MBA investment, it’s worth considering that this might be the best time of all to go for it.


Visit Texas McCombs MBA to find out more about all our programs, events and community, or take a peek into student life on Instagram.

MBA Admissions Updates
Related to COVID-19

The University of Texas at Austin is committed to protecting the health and safety of our community, and we are taking university-wide steps to help reduce the public spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our mission to educate and send the best and brightest into the world remains, but due to ongoing and serious health concerns, we are implementing new ways to uphold that mission.

We have made some admissions updates in response  and encourage you to review the most current admissions information.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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