Perhaps surprisingly, the answer to that question is not “As many as you possibly can.”
Along with many other areas, this is where our suggestions to you will run counter to oft-repeated advice from many other MBA admissions consultants you may encounter.
Getting into bschool is not a numbers game.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” may in fact be true, but many applicants miss 100% of the shots that they DO take.
Getting into bschool is about setting a strategy — understanding your profile, and understanding the schools that you’re applying for — and then executing. It’s about knowing WHY a school you’re targeting might want to admit you.
For Round 2, you are likely going to want to do a higher number of apps than you did in Round 1 (especially if that number in Round 1 was 0). However, the Round 2 calendar is not on your side.
For Round 1, you could spread your workload and anxiety out over five weeks or longer. The first deadline was early September, and some schools were still in the market for Round 1 applications as late as middle October.
That’s not the case for you in facing the Round 2 realities. You’re going to have about four days of near-constant stress-monster life where you will be cursing your procrastinating self and wondering why you didn’t just get started in November like EssaySnark said. Almost all the top schools have stacked deadlines — and almost all the top schools have essay requirements that are really quite different from each other. It’s not like you can write once, use everywhere. You’re going to have some opportunity for repurposing your ideas but by and large, you need to write each essay from scratch.
Doing six schools well in Round 2 is doable if you’re already started.
Doing six schools well in Round 2 is going to be a dubious undertaking indeed if you wait too much longer.
Of course, anybody can slap together six applications even in a couple of weeks. If you aren’t beginning until, say, the day after the day after Christmas when you finally realize that yes, that thing called “January” is about to happen to you, then sure, you’ll have a good ten days to work on your applications. We are doubtful that they will be called good applications when you’re done, however we’ve supported crazymaking BSers who were in all-out panic-mode and they did get that many apps done in that much time — and one or two of them were good enough (with in some cases a waitlist involved) for the BSers in question to actually get in.
So let’s be real.
If you’re planning on 6 applications, and you’ve already gotten started on essays, then sure, we have hope that you can bring it together in time when there are about four-ish weeks left till they’re due.
We do not really recommend trying for more than 6.
Partly that’s due to the realities of the ticking clock, but also it’s because here is the truth:
YOU WILL BURN OUT AFTER APP #3.
It is highly unlikely you will be churning out HIGH QUALITY once you get past apps 5 and certainly not past 6.
We caution against papering the country with apps because it’s just a waste of time and pouring all of that precious stress right down the drain. You are going to shave years off your life if you choose to live in this stressbucket way, and it’s highly unlikely your stressefforts will result in admissions.
“How many apps should I do?” depends on how many you’ve already done.
Did you go through this cycle already in Round 1 and it just didn’t work?
Well then, consider yourself seasoned. You know how hard it is, and you’re motivated. Again, if you’ve already begun working on actual essay ideas, then maybe 6 or even 7 apps is doable for you in the time that’s remaining. We can potentially greenlight you doing a few more applications in total because you’ve got some practice in writing essays, and you know what you’re up against.
If these Round 2 submissions will be your very first applications, well the stakes are higher, because you never had the learning experience of trying to put your thoughts on the page (much more challenging than many people expect!!), AND because you have literally no input from the schools yet. It’s not like those who didn’t make it in through Round 1 got actual feedback from the admissions teams, but yes, you got feedback: Whatever you put together wasn’t good enough, either in terms of strength of profile (strategy), fit to the school (strategy), or pure execution (uh… execution).
A rejected app is significantly informative. (Unless it was rejected by Harvard or Stanford, in which case, not much can be read from that, since massively well-qualified folks are rejected from those places all the time.)
Rejection tells you something. If your Round 1 apps didn’t catch traction, then that’s telling you something very useful. You were either aiming inappropriate to your profile, you didn’t convince the reader why you’re in love with their school (for those schools that care about fit), or you’re just further down the learning curve of writing good essays than you expected.
So. Round 2. Number of essays.
Since Round 3 is a non-starter in most cases, then this is your last shot at pinning that tail on that thar donkey.
That means you need to maximize your chances.
Six schools? Yup doable.
If you’re bound and determined to be sitting in an MBA classroom in the fall, then 6 sounds like a good number.
And now sounds like a very good time to be starting.
Want to know if the six schools (or however many) that you’re thinking of trying for are going to be in range for you, given the realities of your profile and the admissions landscape that we’re seeing so far? HIT US UP! Our Comprehensive Profile Review goes into the details of what you’ve got going and how your targets might respond to that profile.