Today is August 12, 2005. Approximately 2 months to first round deadlines. If you have not yet started your applications, do you still have time?
The answer to this question is personal. It depends on how much time you have in your schedule, how difficult it is for you to write essays and how focused and motivated you are. In general, two months is enough time to submit at least some applications first round. Although you will be working very hard, this is a very realistic timeline.
On the other end of the scale, I have had applicants call me a week before applications are due. They want to submit in the first round, are going to take the week off of work, not sleep and devote all of their time to writing essays. They figure that 100 hours of work should do the trick. While 100 hours may be plenty of time, I am a big believer that the time should be spread out. Because this is such a personal, soul searching process, sometimes you just need to call it a night and sleep on it. Tough to do when you only have a week. While this may work for some, it is not a recommended strategy!
The other piece of this puzzle is “have you completed the GMAT and are you satisfied with your score?” If you still need to take the GMAT, you may have a lot of work ahead of you. Depending on where you are in the process, you may have to sign up for and take a class, and perhaps take the test more than once. If this is the case, first round may not be a realistic option.
Bottom line, we are right now in the thick of things for most schools. So, if you are planning to apply this year, now is the time to get started, be it on GMAT prep, writing essays, selecting recommenders or just generally piecing together your strategy. It is not too late to begin, you do still have time, but it is also not too early.