Don’t Quit Your Day Job!

MBA applications take up a TON of time!! From studying for the GMAT to visiting schools, writing essays, prepping recommenders and interview prep, we estimate that the average applicant spends around 150 hours to 250 hours applying to b-school depending upon the number of schools you’re focused on. That’s a pretty serious part-time gig in addition to your day job.

So, every year I speak with a handful of people who have decided that they’re going to leave their jobs early in order to apply to business school.

Don’t do it (please).

Here’s why. For the top MBA programs, your work experience is a critical component of your application. They want to see what experience you can bring to the classroom and how much  potential you have to continue to progress in your career. So, if you quit before you apply, they know that you’re forgoing a good amount of work experience that others will have continued to gain up until they start school the following year.

The other reason is the overall message that it sends about your ability to manage and prioritize your life. Most people aren’t in a position to quit their jobs in order to apply, so the majority of applicants are in fact working full time jobs as well as dedicating a lot of time to applying. If you quit, then it’ll look like, relatively speaking, you can’t manage everything as well as others who are applying. The top schools are churning out future business leaders who will have to manage their own personal lives alongside demanding and complex careers for the foreseeable future, so make sure they know that you are already learning how to balance that.

Here is some advice for how to manage while keeping your job:

  • If possible, talk to your manager about it early. Give him/her your timeline showing how long it will take so your manager has a heads up that you’ll have this other big thing going on during those months
  • Many teams and managers are great about offering a more flexible situation while you’re applying. I’ve heard of companies that will let people leave early to take a GMAT class in exchange for managing a special project that might require weekend work or some other way to make it up. For people who work in travel heavy roles like consulting, I’ve seen teams focus on a local case for someone who’s applying. It’s not a requirement that they do this for you, but for the most part, if you ask, I find that many managers are receptive to finding a solution that works for everyone
  • Don’t procrastinate. Start early (right now), so that you can pace yourself. If you end-up on a crazy project that monopolizes two weeks, that’s not a big deal if you are pacing yourself and know you can make it up later.

And if you have already quit your job to apply, my advice is to find another job asap and volunteer in the meantime. There are some really cool organizations like Taproot out there that will match your talent with the needs of a local non-profit and that could give you great experience while you’re on the search.

If you want to discuss how we leverage strategies like these and others to help applicants get into the top schools at a 3.0x higher rate than the average, you can request an initial consultation with our team of top MBA admissions consultants at

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