MBA Application Timeline: Your ten-step strategy to find the right school, get into that school, and not stress out about your applications

By Matt Miner

First the important stuff.  With power out and trees down in our neighborhood from Hurricane Matthew, we decided it would be a good week to escape to the beach.  So we did.  This is what it looked like this morning while I was boogie boarding for an hour.

Now that I’ve shared about our #miserablefalldayatthebeach problems, we can move on to the article.

I was corresponding with a gentleman who is considering exiting the Army to go to either business school or law school in summer 2019.

As I thought back on the activities leading up to my departure for school, it occurred to me that having a timeline all in one place for the application process would be a great resource to create.

I’ve promised a post on winding up your pre-b-school life, and it’s in the works.  This post is great high-level material before we launch into the tactics of getting ready to go.

Getting out in front of your application timeline will only help you.  First, you'll have time to do everything you need to do in a not-overly-stressful way.  Second, you'll have time to do a good job of the tasks.  Rest assured, you can easily use all the time you have.  You're not starting TOO early.  Also obviously feel free to tweak these so they work for you.

Without further ado, here’s your ten-step strategy to find the right school, get into that school, and not stress out about your applications.  Counting backwards from your start at school:

1.       Matriculate August 2019

2.       Arrive at your school's location May through July 2019

3.       Apply Early Action / Early Decision / First Round.  Applying in one of these rounds gives you the BEST possibility of admission.  These application deadlines are probably between October 1st, 2018 and January 31st, 2019.

4.       Complete and assemble your applications.  This is a big task with recommendations, essays, interviews, and the forms themselves.  July 2018 through October 2018.

5.       Determine your final list of two to six target schools.  May 2018 to July 2018

6.       Line up a CAREFULLY SCHEDULED trip.  Go with your spouse if applicable.  This trip should be a few weeks into the first post-new year's term.  For example, if school started after MLK day, a good time to go is the first two weeks of February 2018.  You can read here about what to do on your visit. Pro tip: If you’re a Christian, check the church options on this trip.  Having a solid church available and a good partner's community for your spouse will make a tremendous difference in your enjoyment of your time at school.

7.       Fall 2017: Make sure you have the GMAT score you're going to apply with already in hand.

8.       Late spring 2017 - fall 2017: Take your GMAT test.  Allow sufficient time such that if you're unhappy with your first score, you can take it a second time WITH A TEST PREP COURSE IN BETWEEN.

9.       Now to Fall 2017: Meet people, decide whether you’re fully committed to this path, and start working on your GMAT or LSAT prep.

10.   If you’re married, involve your spouse through this whole process.  This is a big decision, and it needs to be made together.  Also encourage your spouse to reach out to other b-school spouses and benchmark their experiences.