Anyone who’s familiar with the MBA application process knows that August moves forward at an accelerated pace, and come September, entire weeks seem to disappear. To help this year’s Round One applicants avoid the classic time crunch, today’s blog post offers some basic advice on how to approach the Round One deadlines at a reasonable pace.
Let’s start by taking a quick look at the published Round One deadlines for the top MBA programs:
September 15: ISB (for Indian Passport Holders)
September 23: Cambridge / Judge
September 28: INSEAD (September Intake)
September 29: Duke / Fuqua (Early Action)
October 3: Harvard, Wharton
October 5: Columbia (Early Decision and January Term)
October 6: Yale SOM
October 10: Michigan Ross
October 12: Cornell / Johnson, Stanford GSB, Chicago / Booth, Berkeley / Haas, Dartmouth / Tuck (Early Action)
October 14: Oxford / Saïd
October 17: UVA Darden
October 18: Northwestern / Kellogg
October 21: UNC / Kenan-Flagler (Early Action)
October 24: CMU / Tepper, UT Austin / McCombs
October 25: MIT / Sloan
October 26: UCLA / Anderson
November 1: Duke / Fuqua (Round 1)
November 9: Dartmouth / Tuck (November Round)
Though some schools have yet to announce their deadlines (such as London Business School and NYU), one can still get a general sense of the lineup of R1 deadlines. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your personal timeline:
1) Plan to be busy in August and September. Yes, it can be tempting to work on one’s tan instead of one’s essays. However, many MBA applicants squander the month of August only to wake up in September and realize that they cannot make their target deadlines. If not bogged down by professional obligations in August, this makes for a great opportunity to devote time to working on your MBA applications in the evenings. The last weeks of summer can easily be split between resume drafting, essay writing, recommendation coaching, GMAT prep, school research, and more.
2) Think carefully about the timing of the R1 deadlines. Looking at the deadlines above, it becomes clear that some deadlines may be easier to make than others. A candidate applying to Wharton and MIT Sloan could have a leisurely October when compared to someone targeting Wharton, Yale, and Tuck. Look at the deadlines, assume about three weeks of research and writing for each school’s application and count backwards to determine a start date for each. It is entirely possible to meet back-to-back deadlines, such as Darden and Kellogg, but doing so requires a well-planned schedule and consistent progress.
3) Consider taking some time off from work. We realize that many MBA applicants work 70 hours/week and haven’t had a day off in months. For such applicants, a day or two out of the office can really do wonders for focus and organization. Applying to business school is a serious undertaking, and in the long-term you won’t regret having given yourself enough time to prepare strong applications. Many successful candidates take a week off in late September to make the final push. It’s not a glamorous way to spend your vacation time, but an offer to attend a leading MBA program can make the sacrifice well worth it.
4) Get your recommenders on board early. While many of the schools have not yet made their online applications and recommendation forms available, it’s a good idea to engage your recommenders early and inform them about the process and your timeline. Sit down with each recommender in August, perhaps over lunch or coffee. Present them with a rough sketch of the deadlines and the process. It’s then a wise idea to meet again once the forms are available, and by that time many applicants are in a position to share their background materials (a resume, career goals essays, etc.) to help their recommenders understand—and support—their message.
Happy planning! For more information on the application process and school selection, we encourage you to contact us at [email protected] for a free consultation.