Business School application series: Now or later? When is the right time for an MBA?

Once you have confirmed that Business School is relevant for you, the next thing you need to consider is whether this is the right time to go to Business School. This is highly relative to personal circumstances, but there are a few things that can serve as pointers:

1.         Work experience:

If you go through the class profile of many top MBA programs, you may notice that the students typically garner a couple years of work experience before heading to business school. In many cases, work experience is an explicit requirement, with very few making exceptions for exceptional candidates.

There is a reason why most programs require work experience from their prospective students. Part of their value proposition is the ability to provide a class where there is a variety of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences. Students are expected to not only gain from the experience of others but also contribute from their own real-world experience and bring context to discussions. If you are just straight out of University, you are likely not going to have that depth and hence may not have much to offer to the class.

That said, there are some schools that accept applicants without work experience, but bear in mind that you would have to demonstrate exceptional leadership skills and life experience in some other aspect of your application (think about those 19 year old kids who have already started and sold multiple businesses, or won the Nobel Prize for ending world hunger 😊).

2.         Extracurriculars:

Business schools are looking for candidates that are not just great academically and professionally, but also have interesting extracurricular experiences. So, if your entire life is a straight line from your job to home and back, you may want to take some time to work on building some extracurricular muscle. I will talk about this in more detail in a later part.

3.         Funding:

While you do not have to have funding completely figured out at this point, it is important for you to start thinking about your options. What will your personal contribution be? What scholarships might be available to you? Will you be able to access loans? If so, how much and what providers will lend to you? Will you need domestic co-signers as an international student? What do you need to start doing now in order to your out-of-pocket contribution ready when the time comes? You need to have these conversations with yourself so you do not go through the painful experience of giving up admission to your dream school because of inadequate funding.

Overall, I would say that the best time to apply is when you can submit the strongest application possible. If you believe that is now, go for it. Otherwise, take your time and build your profile. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you have questions, drop a comment below or shoot me an email at and I will try my best to provide guidance or point you to appropriate resources.

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