I am very curious to know - what do you tell your colleagues (who know about your MBA applications) when they ask you if you got in or not.
In a case where layoffs are around the corner and you don't want your big boss to know 8 months in advance of your impending move? (We all know there is no such thing as secrets in the workplace)
I have been pretty open with my direct boss (one of my recommenders), and a few friends at work. I think the key is to not tell anyone who you can't trust. I have zero concern that my "big boss" will find out about my future plans. I'll most likely give a good 4 weeks notice though, to give them plenty of time to fill my role and help me train the new guy.
I am also not in a position where layoffs are pending... we're actually hiring pretty consistently... BUT, since my direct boss is aware of my plans, I know he is not pushing for me to get promoted into a more senior level. Applying for an MBA is a bit of a gamble... It will most likely affect your career in the short term, regardless of who is aware of your plans. You've focused time to studying for the gmat, writing essays, taking time off to visit schools, going to info sessions, interviewing etc. . Your work has suffered to some extent no matter what... At this point, telling the people whom you trust that you've been accepted shouldn't affect your career currently... but there's always a chance. But... if they know you're applying already, I'm sure they assume you have a foot out the door regardless.