Heading Into The August Cave: Getting Those Early Round Apps Done

In just a few days, it’ll be August. For many reasons, that is the month that things really begin to heat up in Top 20 MBA land.

For starters, August seems to be when the vast majority of people seem to be joining the app race. That is also the month during which every application that has not already been opened, becomes open.

Actual MBA students start going to (or back to) school in August, giving applicants an opportunity to observe the culture and buzz of a school as it will be if and when we attend. In my opinion, the month of August is really the *official* kick off to the ~9 month MBA application season.

Here’s a few bullet points on where I am in my personal race against the clock since I jumped out of the blocks back in March:

School Engagements and/or Visits

I didn’t do too well in this department last spring. After missing out on opportunities to get face time with Berkeley and Wharton (supply and demand issues) and going on 3 schools visits where 2 of them caused me to nearly lose my lunch, I ended up 1 for 5 with The Stanford GSB being the only program that I got to engage AND really liked.

So far this fall, I’ve successfully signed up for face-to-face engagements with Berkeley and Stanford in Los Angeles. I’ve also registered for the Riordian MBA event that will be held here. All of my target schools were present at last year’s event and it would be lovely of them to all decide to make a repeat appearance. The only downside is that I’ll have to miss the annual barbecue for the program that I”m a mentor for; bummer.

Then, of course there was that fantastic Tuck coffee chat that I got to experience about two weeks ago. I’ve yet to get the opportunity to attend local events for Wharton, MIT or Yale but will jump at those chances when they come. And though their app deadlines are a full 5 1/2 months away, I’d jump at the chance to engage Kellogg and Booth as well.

Due to budget constraints, I’ll be doing little to no school visits pre-interview time. My goal is to have visited the majority of the schools before adcoms begin making final decisions. If my app can’t get me that far (to an interview) then they probably didn’t see me as a great fit anyway.


I made my second GMAT attempt almost exactly a month ago and emerged with a 700 (Q47, V40, AWA6.0) that I was proud of, but knew was not my best. So, like many borderline 700 clubbers before me (690-710 GMAT scorers), I wrestle back and forth with whether I should take it again and under what circumstances).

When I turned 35 two weeks ago, I talked about gearing back up for more GMAT study. Well, that never happened. As Kofi KanKamLinda Abraham and Cheeterah1980 have all warned me in the past, MBA apps/essays (which I will get to in a moment) are all-consuming. My heart goes out to those poor procrastinators who will attempt to ride both of these bulls at once (apps + GMAT) at any point during this process. It must be unspeakable hell.

So don’t ask me if/when I’m doing a GMAT retake, because I really don’t know at this point. While I’d like to make an effort to be at or above the median for all of my target schools (which would take a 730), I am already in the 80% range for all of them, pushing the GMAT’s priority down a few notches.

Applications and Essays

The actual apps and essays are making me quite the zombie after work these days; though neither comes close to the suffering I endured while studying for the GMAT. Now I actually go to the gym, bathe and even wear clean clothes to work every day—MAJOR improvement!

Here’s a quick recap of how my app deadlines and school clusters line up:

Round 1 – non-consortium: MIT, Wharton, Stanford, HBS (Sept 24 – Oct 24)

Round 1 – consortium: Yale, Tuck, Berkeley (Nov 15)

Round 2 – Chicago schools: Booth, Kellogg (Jan)

Right now, my focus is on my R1 non-consortium schools. I also consider this “the hump” given that all consortium schools are on one app (with only Tuck and Berkeley requiring additional essays this year).