MBA Application Advice: Time Management

The stress of any approaching deadline causes some degree of anxiety, but if the task is something of monumental importance such as your application to business school, the anxiety can be downright debilitating. 

Managing your schedule in a way which leaves you not only enough time to create a fantastic application but also enough time to do your day job can be tough.  Even with the recent trend of shorter essays for schools, it still takes quite a bit of thoughtfulness to craft a compelling case for admission, and this thoughtfulness takes time—plain and simple.  Essays are not going to write themselves, not to mention all the ancillary items you must also complete such as obtaining your transcripts, sitting down with recommenders and going on school visits. 

This time of year offers a great opportunity to begin thinking about time management and how you will be attacking your b-school applications.  Schools are releasing their applications earlier every year, and before you know it, spring and summer will be gone and you will be facing deadlines.

It’s probably not too much trouble to pull everything off if you are applying to only one or two schools, but if you decide to cast a wider net in order to boost your odds, you might find yourself with five or six applications to knock out.   So what is the strategy?  Since every school wants to know some version of three basic questions, a good way to get the process rolling is to think about why you want an MBA at all, why now is the right time, and why your specific target schools appeal to you (hint: don’t mention the rankings).  Organizing yourself is also important. 

Make sure you set aside time specifically for application work, or else you might fall into the procrastination trap. 

Unfortunately, trying to do things piecemeal is typically a recipe for disaster, so plan to work in at least half-hour to one hour chunks if you want to make meaningful process. Another tip is to try and work on only one school at a time.  This achieves two things; firstly, it prevents you from getting confused about the reasons for going to each school and helps you focus on the details of individual school requirements.  Secondly, it gives you a nice feeling of achievement when you are able to complete a school in its entirety, which can provide critical momentum (especially if you are running out of time).  Of course some of the heavy lifting you must do on b-school applications is completely transferable, such as getting copies of transcripts, sending your GMAT scores, and lining up recommenders, but the school specific list is something that is best accomplished if you focus on that school only until you are finished. One last piece of advice is to make sure you create the best application you can before you hit the submit button. 

Even though the process can be arduous at times, don’t succumb to the pressure of a deadline to potentially put you in a situation to submit something that could be better if you only had more time. 

Better to bump into a subsequent round with an improved package, than to hit an earlier deadline having left things on the table.  And don't forget: it's never too early to begin thinking about your application strategy.


No matter the round, we have helped more than 1000 clients successfully apply to top business schools worldwide since 2008. Let us help you figure out your next step. Schedule a complimentary, one-hour consultation with a member of our expert admissions team. Email us at or visit us online at