One of the oft repeated conversations we have with MBA prospects is on the need to start early. In general, our view is that the more time one gives oneself in this process (especially as a first time applicant), the stronger the application will be, all else being equal.
But we have started to realize there is further nuance here. Starting early isn’t a necessary and sufficient condition for optimal success in the often intense and reflective B school admissions process.
Often we have found applicants will start research early, evaluate admissions consulting firms and sign up with us months in advance of R1 deadlines. The engagement starts on a high note and using our experience we are able to chart out optimum timelines for various deliverables which have buy in from both sides – the applicant and the consultant.
But then real life and its messiness interferes with the carefully thought out schedule and the temptation from an applicant’s point of view is to put the application on the backburner for a few weeks. We understand this happens frequently, and despite that, we do our best to ensure the campaign remains on track.
But what is often underestimated by some applicants is the role of momentum when building ones application. Momentum is a wonderful ally for elite athletes, political campaigners, entrepreneurial ventures and even relationships which are in courtship period. Every incremental move in the right direction starts to compound and before one knows it, one is cruising at an optimum speed towards the goal. It starts to feel as if every incremental unit of achievement takes lesser effort. And why shouldn’t it be that way? After all we are only following natural laws in physics when building momentum. Coming back to applications, this also explains why the application to the third school feels “easier” in general than the first application.
But momentum also works in the opposite way. Once lost, what had started to become easy and natural earlier, starts to weigh you down and it seems that you have to start from scratch. We have seen this happen as well, and we try our best to call out the risk from loss of momentum. Unfortunately, one only realizes the true worth of momentum when it’s lost – almost like the status of being debt free, or having clean air to breathe, or having work colleagues who share same values. We have a tendency to take these for granted.
So here is our wish for talented and motivated applications to top schools – may you start this process early and may you maintain momentum throughout the process!