Are you planning to do an MBA from a top B School in 2014?

Are you planning to do an MBA from a top B School in 2014?
It may seem a wee bit too early to even think about taking few baby steps to that end at this juncture. However, you could not be more wrong about that. I will walk you through the time line sequence to starting an MBA in the US or for that matter in any top B school in Aug 2014.
Most B Schools start their application window for an MBA program beginning in Aug-Sep 2014 a year earlier. Their Round 1 (R1) application deadlines fall anywhere from the end of Sep 2013 to Oct 2013. If you are serious about a B School and are keen on getting some tuition fee waiver or some form of financial assistantship, or a job on campus (assistantship), or even suitable accommodation near the campus, you should apply in R1. Applying in R1 is also a better indication of preparedness, and you tend to beat the crowd that rushes in later.
Let us take end of Sep 2013 as our application deadline and work backwards.
You should have completed and submitted your online application in all aspects as on the deadline date. What does that entail?
  1. Having GMAC send your official GMAT score to the school.
  2.  Having ETS send your official TOEFL score to the school (if applicable).
  3. Drafting, trashing, redrafting, editing and fine tuning your application essays and submitting them.
  4. Having your supervisors / professors submit their online reference forms.
  5. Scanning and uploading all your transcripts – mark sheets, certificates, achievement letters, et al.
  6. Repeating this process for 5-8 schools
A reasonable guestimate is that if you have your scores in place, it will take about 4 to 5 weeks to put your first application packet in place. Subsequent applications (if you are applying to more than one school – which you should) will take about 2 additional weeks each – mainly to fine tune your application essays for that school and have the reference letters for that school completed by your referees.
Getting back to the timeline, you should therefore, start your application process by the third or last week of August. So, you should have taken your GMAT and TOEFL latest by the second week of August 2013, not allowing for re-attempts in case the score is low. Re-attempts take 1 to 2 months.
Most students who apply to good B Schools have about 2 plus years of experience before they start their GMAT preparation – enough time in corporate life to forget the difference between factor and factorial. A decent GMAT preparation to get a score upwards of 700 with a 3 month weekend classroom program thrown in will take about 4 to 5 months. So, the latest you should aim to start your GMAT prep is by March 2013.
Ideally, you should start by February 2013 providing for some slack in the system – there will invariably be those busy year end March weekends – travel, health, social compulsion related disruptions to preparations. Leaving those aside, having a backup plan to attempt the GMAT a second time if your first score is not up to your liking will be possible if you start early. In short, this is that appropriate moment to take that baby step towards your MBA journey.
You should also simultaneously start your research on the different B Schools – the country, ranking, number of students admitted, cost of education, availability of scholarships and funding options, how friendly is the school to international students, post education employment opportunities, placement record, how friendly is the country to students and how friendly is the country’s visa regime. You should also contact alumni and current students, and build a network .
There is a quite a bit of work to be done. Remember – you only do an MBA once in your life. Spare no effort to make it worthy.