Too early or too late? Timing of your MBA submission sends a “message” to adcoms

Sending in your business school application close to the cutoff conveys that you might have procrastinated or had other priorities and thus needed to rush your application so it would arrive just before the cutoff. Furthermore, there’s a risk that the online application system will be overwhelmed by volume and won’t allow you to submit. That’s happened more than a few times at various schools in the past, and it can happen again.

The other extreme — sending in your app too early — implies to the adcom that you might be trying to compensate for low quality by “beating the pack” or that you’re so overconfident you don’t feel the need to bolster your candidacy or add anything to your application even though you have time to do so. For those who submit too early, otherwise correctable errors are magnified in the eyes of adcoms.

For MBA applicants trying to determine the best time to submit their apps, the first step is to verify each school’s official deadline. Having the correct date is not sufficient since most MBA programs specify the actual time – usually 5pm, but sometimes 12 noon or 12 midnight — by which applications must arrive. And don’t overlook the time zone and whether it’s AM or PM. If in doubt, call the school to confirm.

Based on our experience advising nearly 5,000 applicants since 1996, The MBA Exchange has found that the ideal timing for submission is 48 hours prior to the official deadline. An application that arrives two days early sends a positive message that you know and respect their policies, have devoted an appropriate amount of time for preparation, and feel confident that your presentation is truly complete, accurate and competitive.

In order to submit the strongest possible application 48 hours in advance of the deadline, the pacing of your campaign is vital. If you’re running late because you can’t finalize the content, then consulting with a professional admissions consultant is just the ticket. You’ll get candid feedback on what you’ve produced so far, and actionable guidance on how to make key improvements in the least possible time. Or if you feel that your app is ready more than a week before the deadline, then you can have an expert admissions consultant provide a critical review and valuable insights you can consider before submission. You can even have a former admissions officer tell you how an adcom is likely to view your app.

After investing so much effort and emotion in the MBA application process, it only makes sense to time your submission in order to maximize quality and minimize stress. Too early or too late is too risky.