We’ve got a tradition here of keeping data on stuff, and sharing it with you Brave Supplicants, to try and make this whole process a little less opaque, and also help you to prepare (and encourage you to get started early!!)
One of our annual posts is this one: When will the darned schools release questions? When can you actually get started on stuff?
And which schools does it matter to get your app in early?
(Short answer to that last question: Only Columbia, and then only within certain timeframes. Wharton has some odd language on its website about how if you submit early, you get more time to schedule an interview, but we don’t know what that’s about, since all interviews there are by invitation only. Strange. Columbia is the only school where there’s a legit advantage to submitting before the deadline. You can read more about this in our extensive Columbia Essay Questions page.)
Many of the schools like to release their round deadlines pretty early, which is a nice signal to their applicants that yes, you could start thinking about applying now! However, for all practical purposes, releasing deadline information is near-useless, as there’s little that can be done on any actual app planning without essay questions and other requirements. It can help to light a fire under a BSer’s butt and get them to sign up for an info session or pay attention to the adcom’s travel schedule, in case there will be any admissions events in the applicant’s city. Pro Tip: If there are, GO TO THEM!! The adcoms tend to travel the heaviest in the summertime, so take full advantage of any such events that are local to you, and do it NOW. Attending one of those (from a position of preparedness, with good questions lined up to ask your admissions rep) can only benefit you.
You can expect the schools to publish round due-dates in the coming weeks, but there’s often a significant lag between that information coming out and any actionable information in the form of the essay prompts. Some schools are true laggards on releasing their essay questions, in fact. We always try to keep essaysnark.com up to date and accurate, to help you leverage an early bird advantage and get cranking on your project ahead (and we’re always grateful if you spot any discrepancies between what we have posted on our School Info pages and what the school is saying — please let us know at email@example.com if you catch anything that needs to be updated!!).
As we cautioned on our Harvard Essay Questions page, just because a school has released its essay requirements doesn’t mean you should dive head first into writing that essay. There is a strategy involved in terms of optimizing your process. Don’t try writing the most difficult questions first! (Pro Tip: The HBS essay will be one of the most difficult you tackle!) At the same time, don’t fall into that zombie state thinking that hey, it’s only May (or June), you’ve got plenty of time before the apps are due. If you’re applying to bschool, then this summer will go by quicker than any you have ever experienced. Make the most of your early-start advantage! Don’t let procrastination kill your dreams.
As we did last year, here’s the list of which top MBA programs released essay questions when last season, in order of announcements made — though as you will note from reviewing this, many schools this year are already moving more slowly than they did last time:
- HBS announced app requirements would not be changing — this came out super early, well before any other school was even thinking of saying anything about their next-season app — 4/18/18
- LBS announced their deadlines and that their core app requirements would not be changing 4/29/18
- Wharton announced round deadlines — 5/1/18
- Duke announced round deadlines and Open Interview period — 5/8/18
- Tuck announced significant changes to their process — 5/9/18
- HBS announced round deadlines, including a big change to drop Round 3 altogether (round deadlines have already been announced for HBS Class of 2022) — 5/14/18
- Columbia app requirements announced and application opened — 5/21/18
- Ross round deadlines and essay questions announced 5/21/18
- UCLA round deadlines announced (these have already been announced for the Class of 2022) — 5/30/18
- Tuck round deadlines announced — 5/31/18
- Yale announced app requirements would not be changing — 6/1/18
- Stanford round deadlines announced — 6/1/18
- Wharton essay questions released — 6/1/18
- Berkeley essay questions announced 6/2/17
- NYU essay questions announced (big changes!) 6/12/17
- Kellogg & Booth — as they seem to do every year, round deadlines announced on the same day (collusion?! 😉 ) — 6/4/18
- Stanford announces no change to recommendations but essays to stay the same — 6/7/18
- Booth announces big changes to essay requirements — 6/12/18
- Kellogg announced app requirements would not be changing & Darden announced significant changes to their process and new essay questions — 6/13/18
- Berkeley Haas announces deadlines and new essay requirements — 6/14/18
- MIT announces big changes to essay requirements — 6/22/18
- UCLA announces new essay questions — 6/26/18
That may or may not give you a sense of when your schools of interest might be publishing details this season. We are not including the dates that the schools opened up their actual applications as those varied widely and this list started to get uninteresting. 🙂
If you have too much time on your hands and want to go look back over what schools did what in past seasons, since the pattern and sequence tends to vary significantly from year to year:
Generally speaking, if a school is making wholesale changes to its application, then that can be a cause for them to release requirements later in the season. Also, some schools are really big on making a fanfare out of it, where you’ll see them blasting the news on social media. Other schools barely seem to get their websites updated (and — caution — they often update their websites INCORRECTLY at first, with errors in the word count or wording of a question — so always, always, always go back later in the season and doublecheck that the essay question you’ve written for is literally what they wanted you to write for! We are careful to publish such discrepancies openly here to help you not waste time and subject yourself to unnecessary rework over such errors).
Questions on timing and what schools may be doing what and when? Hit us up in the comments, we’re happy to field your inquiries on this stuff!