How Many Business Schools Should You Apply To?

November 14, 2016

As you prepare for a grad degree in business, you need to consider just how many business schools you should apply to. Let’s look at a few things to consider.

“All of them” is not the right answer.

You may be tempted to treat your school hunt like a job hunt, pursuing every opportunity you can until you’ve secured a position somewhere. But hunting for a B-school really isn’t the same as hunting for a job. You don’t need to cast an all encompassing net.

And in fact, doing so can work against you. For one thing, business school application fees aren’t cheap. It’s rare to pay less than $50 to apply to a business school, and it’s pretty common to pay more than 200. Apply to 20 or 30 schools, and you could waste thousands of dollars. Applying to that many  schools can waste a lot of time too. Instead, it’s better to select just a few business schools that meet certain criteria.

Apply only to top schools you have a reasonable chance of getting into.

Don’t apply to a top business school just because it’s your dream school. Choose realistic dream schools for yourself.  Do your past grades, exam scores and work experience fall within the school’s standards? If you don’t meet a school’s minimum application requirements, you probably shouldn’t apply there.

Look carefully at the admissions requirements of every top school you’re interested in. Make a list of the schools that often accept applicants with backgrounds similar to yours. This will give you an idea of the number of top business schools you can apply to. From that number, pick the upper-level B-schools that interest you the most, and apply.

Apply to some safety schools as well as “dream schools”

It’s always a good idea to apply to any top school you have a chance of getting into. But be sure to also consider a few “safety schools.” These are the schools you can very easily get into, based on their stated admissions criteria. Safety schools are often mid-tier schools rather than top ones.

Even then though, don’t think of yourself as just “settling” for a set number of safety schools to help your odds of being accepted somewhere. Even if your safety schools aren’t your first pick, choose only the safety schools that are acceptable secondary choices for you. Maybe only one safety school fits that criteria; maybe a few do.

Apply to the schools you have time to apply to

Once you’ve put together a good list of dream schools and safety schools, think about how much time each application will take you. Make sure that you’re not overextending yourself, and that you have enough hours in the day for application activities.

Also consider application timelines in relation to testing requirements. Don’t apply to schools unless you’re sure that you can take—and pass—your entrance exams in time. This typical GMAT study guide can give you an idea of how much time it takes to pass the GMAT. And of course, don’t forget to factor in how long it takes to send your GMAT scores to schools.

About The Author

David Recine, Guest Blogger
David Recine, Guest Blogger

David Recine is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007.




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