MBA candidates often ask us whether they should complete one application before moving on to the next or attack all of their applications at once. Although this question has no definite “right” answer, we generally advise candidates who start early to make significant progress on their first application before beginning the second or third.
Why? Simply put, business school candidates can learn a tremendous amount from the process of completing their first application, and this can prevent them from repeating any mistakes two or three times. By mistakes, we mean errors not just in terms of grammar and style, but also in terms of approach. For example, once an applicant starts writing, he/she might discover that achieving the right “balance” in his/her essays is difficult or that conforming to stringent word counts is tougher than expected. In this case, the candidate would benefit from “battling” through the first few essays and using them as an opportunity to refine his/her message and approach, rather than attacking multiple essays at once. After working through these issues and having completed a full set of essays, the applicant can then move forward with the next application(s) and can do so with confidence that he/she is not repeating the same mistakes.
This is a simple recommendation, but if followed, it can save an applicant a tremendous amount of time, especially those candidates who intend to start early and make steady progress.