We have so many eager beaver Brave Supplicants around here right now! Which is great. We did a series of posts last week about some steps you can take to get started now.
Truly, it’s not too early to begin laying the foundation for what your application strategy will be.
It is, however, too early to begin actually working on your apps.
The bschools tend to change their questions from year to year – at least, many of them do. Stanford has kept their app largely the same for like three years now. That doesn’t mean they’ll kept it the same again this year.
If you want to know when you can REALLY start working on your applications for a Round 1/Fall submission, well… the answer is, not yet.
You theoretically could begin writing essays for your target school based on the existing-season’s questions. But we don’t recommend that you do that.
Questions are likely to change – they are ESPECIALLY likely to change in this coming season.
Because lots of them changed quite radically in the past season.
And because we don’t think all of those changes were necessarily to the respective school’s benefit.
Bschool adcoms tend to move in packs. The herd mentality definitely is in evidence among this crowd.
What happened a few years back, when Harvard cut the number of essays that they require?
Well, what happened is, many other schools started cutting the number of essays in their apps.
What happens when Harvard asks essay questions about accomplishments and failures?
Suddenly essays about accomplishments and failures pop up in other schools’ apps.
It’s not like Harvard is the only one calling the shots – and it’s not like all the schools will follow Harvard off a cliff. After all, Harvard did something quite dramatic this past season with its one-essay/no-limits app. That open-ended question did not get replicated at other schools. But it did cause many other schools to make some dramatic changes to their application requirements.
And we believe that at least a few of these changes could get rolled back this year.
Shorter-length essays may get loosened up again. Essay limits could expand somewhat. And questions will (hopefully!) be re-evaluated so that they can generate answers from applicants that are more useful to the adcom who must wade through them.
Many changes are here to stay – it’s unlikely we’re going to go back to the days of four essays per school. But we do think that the schools will be, at minimum, tweaking – and maybe doing more major adjustments to what they ask you applicants to produce.
This means, you would be prudent to sit tight and not worry about actually tackling the application quite yet.
So back to the question: When can you really get started?
Well, Harvard Business School tends to be the first one out of the gate with its new application each year. This happens as soon as early May in some cycles; a couple years, it didn’t happen until the end of May, but they’re usually quicker to release than that. UPDATE 4/14/14: Harvard announced on their blog that they plan to release the Class of 2017 essay and recommender questions in early June.
The other early-out school is Columbia Business School. They have an Early Decision and a January Term application that both open very early, often right on the heels of Harvard (sometimes Columbia comes out a little sooner).
After that, there’s a lull before other schools start getting their acts together. Late June tends to be when the bulk of the schools release their questions. Also remember that many schools release questions before they open up their applications, and unfortunately sometimes things change in between one event and the next – Kellogg in particularly had some glitches this past year due to the rollout of two major changes to their process simultaneously.
So sometimes it actually works out better to wait a tiny bit.
This doesn’t mean that you need to sit on your hands… and it also isn’t that long to wait till you can actually dig in. We STRONGLY encourage you to get started on your actual essays as soon as the schools release their questions. The terms “procrastination” and “Brave Supplicant” are practically synonymous. It’s great that many of you are ready to go! You’ll be in much better shape if you start as soon as you can. It’s an arduous process ahead. You’re motivated now – what a great place to be! In a few short weeks you can be up to your eyeballs in writing.
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