Friday, September 30, 2005

MBA Time Line & Priorities US Vs India

The assumption: People are applying for starting MBA in Fall (Aug/Sep) of year 200X. (200X - 1 ) is the year before 200X.

Applying to MBA in US Schools

Year (200X - 1)

Jan - March:
  • Prepare for GMAT.
  • 3 weeks is the time required to seriously prepare for GMAT.
  • Although since most will not have studied/written exams for quite some time a 2 month being-around-the-GMAT book is required to boot you up.

March: Take the GMAT Exam.

April - May: "Back up" time to re-take GMAT if things dont work well the first time.

April - June:

  • Introspect/ Analyze your career progression,
  • Decide on your future career path.
  • This is a really good time to think about yourself, your ambitions, what you want to do in life. Don't do what everybody else is doing. Think about why you are unique?
  • Make sure of the reasons why you want to do an MBA?
  • Make sure of the reasons why you want to go to the US.
  • Find out about post-MBA careers and where you fit in.
  • Talk to people who have done MBAs and understand what sort of work they do.
  • Dont underestimate this 2 month effort. This is important.
  • Most blokes have no clue on what people do after an MBA. They just apply because MBA is a cool thing to do.
  • Your core story will evolve at this point. Do due diligence.

June - July:

  • As a deliverable for the previous step. Write 1 long essay detailing your career progression, your goals (short term and long term), why MBA, Why Now? etc.
  • This could be a really long essay. Dont worry. Just write every small detail about yourself, your life philosophy, your leadership situations, your extra curricular ectivities. Make it one long cogent story.


  • Short list your colleges.
  • Understand what "application rounds" mean.
  • Develop a strategy on how you want to distribute your colleges across application rounds (depending on your work schedule).
  • Talk to possible recommenders. It is your responsibility to ensure that they send their references before the deadline. Keep sending regular email reminders about deadlines.


  • College release application forms.
  • Columbia opens Early Decision round.
  • Begin Tailoring your application to the college of your choice.
  • Apply to Columbia if that is indeed your interest.
  • Start scheduling interviews/school visits with other schools. Your POA is determined this month. You should finish scheduling interviews this month.


  • Some School Interview all students prior to submitting application forms.
  • Interview with universities of your choice.
  • Write essays.
  • Write essays.
  • Write essays.
  • Oh ya... Write essays.
  • Harvard - 6 essays. Wharton - 4 essays. kellogg - 6 essays. Michigan - 3-5 essays. Chicago 5 essays. Stanford - 2 essays. You could be writing anywhere between 15-20 essays per application round.

July - October: :

  • Write Essays.
  • Have people review your work. 1 bschool student, 1 English expert and 1 analytical/logical dude is the combination you are looking for. The more bschool students the better.
  • 4 months is around 16 weeks. 16 weeks for 20 essays is a challenge. Plus there are other things going around too.
  • Fill your data/application forms well in advance.
  • Prepare a solid resume. Make sure you do your data forms in detail.
  • The transcripts takes 3 hours to write to an Excel sheet. Please do it very early and not on the day of submission.


  • This month is a terror.
  • Most biggies have deadlines this month. Typically your work life will be screwing you at this point too.
  • Columbia, Wharton and Harvard typically have Oct 10, 11 and 13 deadlines. Stanford, Kellogg and Michigan will have Oct 22, 28 and Nov 1.
  • All essays, supporting docs, recomendations have to go before the deadline. Midnight is 00:00:00 hrs. 00.00.01 hrs might not be considered (seriously). Why? Because it is past midnight. yes! they are picky. If they aren't picky when you submit late and I submitted my forms on time. I would be very upset. This is the reason why they are indeed picky. get this point early on.


  • Start working on your back up plan.
  • Round 2 is as open as round 1 and you can send more applications in Round 2 if your R-1 plans dont work out. Sometimes it just doesn't. Dont fret over it. Just move on.
  • There is a overwhelming wave of emotion to take stuff like this personally. Just Don't and move on.
  • Your essays will be much better in R-2 than R1. trust me. This is an universal truth. The essays you write last will be your best.
  • This month plan on tracking R-1 application status.
  • Some Universities call you for interview after reviewing your applications and shortlisting people. Be prepared.
  • Interview is an important part of your applications.
  • Book your consular Visa appointment for June. This is kinda important. Dont forget it.
Year (200X)

  • This is when R-2 deadlines are due.
  • So send in your R-2 application packets.
  • R1 and R2 intake are similar. It does not make a difference which round your apply for.

Feb-April: Do interviews, track status for R-2 apps.

April: Decide on the Bschool you want to attend

May- June: Prepare for visa interviews.


  • Get Visa and then quit your job.
  • Book tickets. talk to people over the summer regarding career plans.
  • Talk to seniors in your university. Decide what you wanna do in summer.
  • If at all possible land up in bschool with 1 resume ready and polished.

Priority List of things bschool looks for to decide admission.( high priority ones to low priority ones in decreasing order)

1) Essay1
2) Essay2
3) Essay3
4) Essay4 - Essay6
4a) Interview (communication skills and expresson of items 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
5) Work Experience & Career Progression ( is part of essays, data form, resume)
6) professional maturity (part of essays)
7) Leadership track record (")
8) Team work track record (")
9) Business impact on your organization (")
10) Extra curricular activities (")
11) Academic performance GPA
12) GMAT (GMAT is not that important. Please dont worship it.)
13) TOEFL is not considered as a selection criteria. It is a self-elimination criteria. (The same rule some times applies to GMAT as well. )

Average Age of US BSchool Entrants ( a decent conjecture): 27-29 years

Average Work Experience: 4 - 7 Years

Average GMAT Score for Top 10 Bschools ( a decent conjecture): 690 - 720. This is speculated to be higher for the Indian/IT/male category. Although no one has data to prove it. It is irrelevant anyway. I at least was not worried about it.

Biggest Myth of the Application process, which are completely untrue:

  • You need to be rich.
  • GMAT is everything.
  • Essays are easy to write.
  • Indian/IT/Male is the most competitive

Percentage of Indian bschool entrants who are married : 50% or more :-) (This is just a guess but it seems like everybody are married)

will be continued...


Teju said...

This is simply superb. Very systematic, and exhaustive.

Waiting for more :-)

Vinay said...

Fantastic Dude

For a unorganised guy like me this is a Bible...


Senthil said...

alright a really good one !!
Could you also give some details about the financial statements required , like when r they due and is it easy to get one ??

Paa"ji" said...

Thats very well written n explained...keep up the good work and yes I do admire your time management skills

Anonymous said...

How do you say that "Indian/IT/Male is the most competitive" Category is a myth. Are not many ppl with that bkgrnd applying to b-schools. Most of the applicants in this category have very high GMAT and GPA. Though they are not the only parameters seen for admissions, they are definetely important. As we all know b-schools try to create a "diverse" class, so obviously they'll only admit a very small section of the applicants in this category...which obviously makes this one of the toughest applicant pool, if not the most toughest.

Hawkeye said...

/*which obviously makes this one of the toughest applicant pool, if not the most toughest. */

the last part of your sentence is the myth. it is not the most toughest. which was what i was trying to communicate

Anonymous said...

my point was, for the reasons stated, this group is one of the toughest applicant pools. any reasons why you say this is otherwise.

Ram said...

Essays essays essays..
Am workin on em now...thanks a ton Hawkeye!!

Vasu said...

Excellent post. I stumbled on to this blog because of this and other b-school related posts, but ended up spending close to an hour reading through the archives (loved the one on a wind-swept afternoon in Madras - yes I like to refer to it as Madras as well because "Madras" is where I grew up, not Chennai).

Just curious about your comment that the Indian/IT/Male applicant pool being the toughest one is a myth. The consistent message that I've been seeing is that it is indeed the least favored demographic and hence the toughest pool to get in. What makes you think this is a myth?

Hawkeye said...


Most is a superlative. Much different from "one of the most". "one of the most" is a category which houses a lot of groups. I have heard White/Caucasian/Male being termed as the toughest category. Investment Bankers who want to get an MBA for career acceleration is said to be really really tough. So are analyst consultants who wanna get MBA to become an Associate consultant. Then you have the sales managers from pepsi, target, coke who all want to become marketing folks. Not to mention entrepreneurs who want an MBA to develop their network. Last but not the least the finance guys from mumbai.

When I look at all these categories, I do not think Indian/IT/Male is so super competitive that "most" kind of superlatives apply to it. Whoever you are getting into a top B School is tough. I have heard non-profit category is the easiest to get in.. ask them they will give you their own story.

saying Indian/IT/Male as the toughest category is almost like self-flattery. Dont go in with a mentality that you are ina tough pool. Think you are unique. Everybody who gets in to HBS think that way. They are just like you and me but probably just a little more determined and have a better attitude.

Kamesh said...

Hi All,

This Article is amazing. I got excellent information from it. Thanks a ton!

HawkEye well said. A little more determination and attitude will go a long way not only in MBA but even after that.


Vijay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MBA in US said...

Simply nice stuff! You have come out with a detailed analysis about the MBA business administration programs in India in a lucid language. Great work! Hoping to see more such posts coming from your side!

Vijayashankar said...

Nice blog!

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