How to Stay Sane During the MBA Application Process

Admissions events, the resume, essays, short answers, recommendations, interviews, and of course, waiting to see whether you got accepted. Given everything that is involved in the MBA application process, you will understandably feel stressed, or even overwhelmed, at times. However, by keeping things in perspective and giving yourself sufficient time away from your application work, you can ensure that you stay as grounded as possible while applying to business school.

Before you start working on your applications

The best way to minimize stress is to plan ahead, to the extent that that is possible. Ideally, get the GMAT/GRE/Executive Assessment out of the way a few months before your target school’s deadline, talk to your recommenders early, and connect with students and alumni before you start thinking about essays. That way, you will be able to focus fully on the applications in front of you when the time comes.

While you are working on your applications

  • Keep things moving, and work on your application materials consistently throughout the week—do not save everything for the weekend! This will ensure that you have enough time to reflect on what you are creating, that you avoid burnout, and that you get enough rest while juggling the demands of application process with the other priorities in your life.
  • Consider having a “buddy” during the application process, perhaps a friend or close colleague who is also applying to business school. Although you do not want to feed into each other’s worries, having the support and ear of someone who is going through exactly what you are can be therapeutic.
  • Make sure you give yourself enough breaks. While you are working on your essays or another part of the application, regularly do some light stretching, engage in some deep breathing, drink some water, eat a healthy snack, or chat briefly with a friend or family member about something unrelated to your applications.  
  • Check in with your recommenders regularly. Doing so will help ease your anxiety and ensure that writing the letters for you does not fall off their radar.
  • If you find yourself getting fatigued by an essay or hitting a wall, set it aside, and review it later with fresh eyes. You will be surprised at how much more effective you will be once you have had some time away.  
  • Once the deadlines are near, remind yourself that you are in the home stretch. You will be ready to hit “submit” soon!

After you submit your applications

  • Do not agonize over what you wrote in your applications—move forward! Rest assured that given the holistic nature of the application review process, something minor like a small typo will not sink your chances of getting in. We have definitely had clients who found small flaws in their application after submission, but we always assure candidates not to worry about such inconsequential slipups and to focus on the strengths of their candidacy. In the end, small errors will never prevent a strong candidate from being accepted. 
  • Focusing on your end goal—an acceptance—is easy, but you should also celebrate the small victories along the way: a great conversation with a student, a completed application, an interview invite. You have worked hard, and you deserve to feel good about your efforts.   
  • Try not to ruminate too much on your interviews after they are over. You can easily fall into the trap of wondering whether your answers were good enough or whether your interviewer liked you. Leave a final positive impression by sending your interviewer a thank you email within 48 hours of your meeting, and then let it go.  
  • When you get your results—whether you were accepted, waitlisted, or released from the process—keep them in perspective. Sometimes, things really do work out for the best. We cannot count the number of times that applicants who ultimately attended their second-choice school ended up loving it so much that they were actually happy their first choice did not work out. And the truth is that the school you go to will not dictate your career. Once you start a job, your performance is what matters, not your alma mater. We have also seen many candidates who were not accepted to a program one year but successfully reapplied the following year. So, sometimes “no” just means “not now” and can turn into a “yes” later. And if you are fortunate enough to receive multiple admissions offers, evaluate various factors before making your decision, but do not let your options overwhelm you. Go with your gut, and then get excited about the experience ahead.  

Overall, throughout your business school application journey, avoid letting your MBA application situation take over your life by making time to step away and enjoy yourself and stay connected with loved ones. They will support you no matter how things turn out. And of course, if you feel you need more help navigating this process and your feelings about it, do not hesitate to seek out a qualified admissions professional.

If you have questions about your candidacy, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with an expert at mbaMission. We can discuss how best to position yourself to be a competitive MBA applicant.  

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