Every year, my early bird clients always ask me which school to start with. So here goes the advice I am going to start giving out:
I am assuming that deadlines are not driving the decision because if they are, no reason to read this post. If you perceive that you have limited time, apply to schools based on deadline order.
Since the HBS essay question for the Class of 2018 is no longer completely open ended and likely not to be particularly long, I see no inherent reason to start with HBS.
Start with HBS or Stanford? I will be recommending that my clients who apply to Stanford and HBS, start with Stanford this year because I think doing so will make it easier to get to HBS.
Wharton’s required Essay is also a fine place to start because it will help you with CBS Essays 1 and 2 and Stanford Essay B. It may or may not be useful for HBS. For those initially not wanting to take the deep dive into Stanford A, Wharton’s required essay is a good starting place. Wharton’s Optional (good stuff essay, not concerns essay) can either be written before doing the essays for other schools or after you have a portfolio of other school’s content to work with.
If you are applying to CBS for Early Decision, it is a fine place to start because it will give you any goals content you need for other schools as well as rationale for attending a school, which could modified for subsequent schools. CBS Essay Three (Surprise) could also be the same thing as or part of what you write for HBS. The CBS essay content is likely to be easy to apply to Wharton’s required and possibly even the optional essay. CBS Essay One and Two could also be helpful for writing Stanford B.
MIT remains the odd man out. It is really completely unclear whether MIT’s one required essay would overlap at all with any of these other school’s essays. Maybe there will be some overlap between Wharton’s and MIT’s optional essays or HBS’ essay and MIT’s optional essay, but maybe not.
If you are applying to INSEAD for September 2016 entry and also to HBS, I would recommend starting with INSEAD because Job Essay 2 and Motivation Essay 1 are likely to provide you with content that can be reapplied, in shortened form, to HBS.
Of course you might be applying to other schools which could effect my remarks above, but those schools essays are not known at this time.
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