Planning for Application Success


If earning an MBA is your priority within the next two to three years, now is the time for you to start putting in the work to be a competitive applicant for the 2020-2021 admission season. Don’t allow another year to pass without taking deliberate steps to realize your MBA dreams.

Applying to business school is hard work. Maybe you have a full-time job, or perhaps you’re in school; you definitely have your own commitments, bills, and maybe even a spouse or kids. You might even want to continue having a social life! In order to conduct a successful, efficient application process with all that going on, you’re going to need a piece of this PIE: Plan, Investigate and Execute.  

Make a decision
This is an extremely underrated step in the application process. Too frequently, we see candidates who tell us they’re interested in applying to business school and come back year after year, yet never fully commit to the process. The first step to success is taking a long look in the mirror and choosing to move forward. If you don’t commit, you will increase your likelihood of failure 

Determine your priorities
Equally important is figuring out your priorities for business school. You’ll want to think about what’s most important to you, what you’re looking to get out of a business degree, and what you’re willing to sacrifice, then set your goals accordingly. 

Carve out time
Look at your schedule and figure out where you’ll create the necessary time for the application process. You will need to visit schools, attend events, study for your test, and write an application. Be realistic when it comes to creating the necessary time – any goal that’s unrealistic will likely never come to fruition. How will you be able to adjust your schedule to make this happen? 

Do your research
A successful application process starts with doing your research. You need to understand the value of a graduate degree, get familiar with successful applicant profiles, and determine realistic expectations for your career after graduate school. Here are a few websites that might help you in your research: 

Experience schools first-hand
You can experience schools in multiple ways: online, at tours, in-person locally and on campus. Most schools have a very extensive website with multiple resources built in to give you a virtual understanding of the school. In addition, schools spend a great deal of time and money visiting various cities around the world, so connect with them when they come to a city near you. Finally, you can make the trip to visit schools yourself. Right now is a good time to put some of those trips on your calendar.  

Determine your weaknesses
You need to get a handle on your weaknesses now, so you can mitigate them in time to submit your application. Common ways to address weaknesses include taking a test preparation course, getting a test prep tutor, getting involved in the community, taking on leadership roles in organizations, or changing jobs. 

  1. Set deadlines. Accountability cannot exist without clear expectations. Set a few major deadlines for yourself and add them to your calendar. Commit to sharing your progress (or lack thereof) with at least one other person on those dates. 
  2. Take the test ASAP. Most applicants feel held back if they haven't yet completed their GMAT. It’s harder to determine which schools to apply to and it’s more challenging to really commit to the application process when you’re waiting on a test score.
  3. Make your plan public. If you tell someone what you’re doing to apply for school, even if it’s just one close friend, your likelihood of applying will improve because someone else has the potential to hold you accountable.
  4. Mitigate your weaknesses. Now is the time to implement plans that address your weaknesses. Many of these weakness mitigation strategies take some time (e.g., taking classes, community engagement), so plan them out now and you won’t be rushing to finish them while you’re actively applying!
  5. Talk to an expert. Get an informed perspective from an admissions expert on your strengths and weaknesses, likelihood of success, and overall outlook. Admit Advantage has a free admissions consultation, here

If you want to optimize your application process, now is the time to start. If you wait too long to start the process, you will likely find yourself confined by application deadlines.  Ideally, you would study for and finalize your GMAT score by June and be ready to work on your applications for a round 1 submission (September / October).  Get ahead of the curve by starting now: Plan your MBA process, Investigate programs and do a self-analysis of your profile and Execute your application strategy. This is your year. This is your time. You can do it!

Eric Allen is the President of, the online step-by-step admissions platform and the admissions consulting company, Admit Advantage. Eric has his B.S. from Brown University and MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  Eric previously served on the admissions staff at Wharton.  Create a free profile on to get step-by-step guidance on the admissions process.

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