One of the most important decisions you’ll make during the MBA application process is which schools you’re going to apply to in the first place. We know—duh, right? But seriously, we can’t stress enough how important it is to put significant thought into which programs you’re going to dedicate dozens of hours to over the coming months.
Each year we see excellent candidates who want to prematurely take themselves out of the running for some of the top programs. Make no mistake: it is extremely tough to get into a highly ranked business school. Certain programs have single-digit acceptance rates, and literally thousands of more-than-qualified applicants are turned away each year. But if you don’t even give yourself a chance at admission, you may always wonder, “What if?” Is there anything worse?
That’s why we typically recommend that people ask themselves whether or not getting an MBA is most important to them—or if getting an MBA from a certain school is what really matters most. If you’d truly be at peace with never getting an MBA if you weren’t accepted to School X, then you can move forward by focusing all of your efforts solely on your dream school or schools.
However, if you want an MBA no matter what, then you’d be wise to consider five or six schools, or maybe spread your efforts across Rounds 1 and 2.
We hope you at least give yourself a shot at the programs you’re really interested in, though. Applying to top business schools is something of a self-selecting process: most people who apply are overachievers who would be assets to any class. It’s easy to let that discourage or intimidate an applicant to the point of not even trying. You might think, “What’s the use? There are thousands of other people like me fighting for spots.”
But we’d argue: 1) no, there isn’t anyone else exactly like you, so figure out how to differentiate yourself, and 2) why would you want to make it easier for someone else to get in by taking yourself out of the mix? You deserve a shot just like everyone else.
Think of it this way:
Do you want to stay on top of the application process with timely tips like these? Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter and you’ll receive our expert advice straight in your mailbox before it appears on the blog, plus special offers, promotions, discounts, invitations to events, and more.