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Admissions Tip: MBA Deadlines

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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 MBA deadlines at a reasonable pace.

Let’s start by taking a quick look some of at the published Round One deadlines for the top MBA programs:

September 7: Harvard Business School
September 9: Cambridge / Judge, Oxford / Saïd
September 14: Duke / Fuqua, Yale SOM
September 15: MIT Sloan 
September 21: 
London Business School, Stanford GSB, INSEAD, Northwestern / Kellogg
September 22: 
Chicago / Booth 
September 27:
UPenn / Wharton, Notre Dame / Mendoza
September 29: Berkeley / Haas
October 2: CMU / Tepper
October 3: Michigan / Ross
October 4: IESE, UVA / Darden
October 5: Cornell / Johnson, Dartmouth / Tuck, Columbia, Rice / Jones
October 6: UCLA Anderson
October 10: Georgetown / McDonough
October 11: UT Austin / McCombs
October 14: Emory / Goizueta, UNC / Kenan Flagler
October 15: NYU Stern, USC Marshall, Indiana / Kelley, Indian School of Business
October 24: Vanderbilt / Owen
October 31: Babson / Olin

Though some schools have yet to announce their deadlines (such as Maryland / Smith and SMU / Cox), one can still get a sense of the lineup of R1 deadlines. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your personal timeline:

Plan to be busy in August.  

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 you are 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.

Think carefully about the timing of the R1  MBA deadlines.

Looking at the deadlines above, it becomes clear that some deadlines may be easier to make than others.  A candidate applying to Haas and London Business School could have a leisurely October when compared to someone targeting Haas, London Business School, and NYU Stern. 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 Tepper and Ross, but doing so requires a well-planned schedule and consistent progress.

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 early 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.

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, perhaps over lunch or coffee. Present them with an outline 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 résumé, career goals essays, etc.) to help their recommenders understand—and support—their message.

Happy planning!

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