Hey all, I'm getting ready to apply and was wondering what advice anyone has about 1) how many schools to apply to; 2) how many reaches and how many certainties to apply to; and 3) how to decide what is a reach and what is a certainty based not only on gmat score but also on experience, undergrad gpa, etc....thanks in advance for all your help!
Well, we can certainly try to answer here too.
1) You'll find that most people apply to about 4 to 6 schools. Some do 2 or 3, some do 7 or 8, but it seems like the vast majority do 4 to 6. It's a lot of work to do, so don't underestimate this.
2) This is an excercise in risk tolerance. You have to ask yourself this fundamental question: "If I dont get into a top 10 school, will I be happy at a top 15? top 20? top 30?" For myself, I eventually realized that if I didn't get into a top 15 school, I wouldn't be happy and wouldn't want to go, so I didn't apply to anything outside the top 15. For some, it's top 10 or nowhere. For others, it's top 30 or nowhere. For some, it's top 50. You need to dig deep on this - really really think about it. Project yourself to a school in the top 5 and then project yourself to a school in the top 11 to 15. Picture yourself there - will you forever regret not waiting another year and trying again? Will you be happy? The answer may be yes, the answer may be no. Then ask yourself this: "If I dont get in anywhere, am I ok with waiting another year to go, or do I absolutely want to go now?" The answers to these two questions may conflict, but give it some thought.
3) The easiest way to do this is to take a look at the averages for schools and compare them to yourself. Also see admissions411.com - you can get a good idea of what people with similar profiles ended up seeing. Remember though - it's not a formula. There are people with 780 GMATs who got rejected from top schools, and there are people with 640's who got in. Also, post your profile, and people can help give you some suggestions. Just remember to take the suggestions with a grain of salt. I've had people tell me HBS was a clear admit, and I've had people tell me Cornell was probalby a bit of a stretch but georgetown was a solid choice.