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Choosing the Right Time to Apply to Business School

It is important to get the MBA application timing right. If you apply too soon, such as when you don’t have enough materials to showcase your strengths, you could be denied admission.

Conversely, leaving it until too late in the game can also result in a denial.

You also want to be sure that you don’t apply with the attitude of “if it doesn’t work out now then I’ll just reapply next year” since the chances of gaining admission as a re-applicant are significantly less.

How Old Should I Be When I Apply to Business School?

The application timing should not simply be an age-driven decision; rather it should focus on the quality of your combined experiences.

There are 24 year-old applicants who have strong work and life experiences who can justify applying to business school as an early career candidate.

There are also seasoned applicants who are 29 or older who are better off postponing their application by another year to strategically strengthen their profile.

So how do I know the right time to apply to a MBA program?

Certainly, the right time to apply to business school varies from person to person but there are three key factors to consider.

The absence of any one of these may be reason to postpone the application to a later round or possibly to the next year.

1. You are struggling to find recommenders to support your candidacy.

Perhaps you just started a new job and have been at the job too short a period to ask for a recommendation or your current boss is unsupportive of you and you don’t have strong relationships with another person who has supervised your work.

Whatever the reason, if you’re having trouble finding recommenders, consider waiting on your application.

2. You lack leadership experience.

You are good at your job but you have not stepped outside of what you are required to do to influence or create impact.

There is little evidence of demonstrable leadership attributes (initiative, influence and persuasion, etc.) in your experience.

If this is the case, spend time bolstering your leadership experience before applying.

3. Your GMAT is abysmal.

If you are struggling with raising your GMAT/GRE score to a competitive score, you may want to postpone your application.

Let’s say your GMAT score is 640 and you believe you can raise your score significantly if you had enough time to prepare, you should postpone your application to a later round.

Taking the extra time to bump your score from 640 to 700, for instance, can increase your odds of admission.

Of course, there are also reasons to forge ahead with your application.

You may also choose to pursue business school now if you are in a job where it is becoming clear to you that you have educational gaps that would help you manage at a greater level.

Whether you hold off on your application or move forward with it now, your chances of gaining acceptance will be that much greater if you pause to evaluate where you are at and how well prepared you are to ace the application process.

Keep in mind the importance of recommenders, your leadership experiences, and your GMAT scores as you make this decision for yourself.

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