Article by Ben Feuer, Photo by Dineshraj Goomany

Wondering how much time you should be allotting to complete your application for higher education? Great question, random internet reader!  For your edification, we have prepared a handy-dandy flowchart! Follow this article from top to bottom to figure out exactly how much time you should be budgeting for your application to school.


WHAT TYPE OF PROGRAM ARE YOU APPLYING TO?
Medical School.  +9 weeks.
College. +8 weeks.
Portfolio-based school.  +6 weeks.
Business School. +5 weeks.
Law School.  +4 weeks.
All Others.  +4 weeks.

WILL YOU BE GETTING HELP?
Yes, amateur help. +1 week. It's a great idea to get feedback -- we recommend it -- but people are busy, and your application is not their priority. Expect to lose some time waiting on feedback. +2 weeks if it's your parents.
Yes, professional help.  -1 week.  Professional help saves you time by allowing you to prioritize certain aspects of your application and delegate other parts. However, it also adds complexity to the process and requires more redrafting, so you don't end up saving as much time as you might expect.

ARE YOU A GOOD WRITER?
Do you have a lot of experience writing? Are you filling out applications in your native language? If so, then this part won't slow you down. Break even. If you struggle with writing, tend to procrastinate, or aren't writing in your first language, +10-30%. Use your best judgment about how slow you are by comparing yourself to your peers in historical context (are you always the last to hand in papers?)

HAVE YOU DONE YOUR DUE DILIGENCE?
Yes. Congratulations, this won't slow you down.  Break even.
No. You'll need extra time to choose schools, visit campuses, speak to stakeholders, and familiarize yourself with your schools similarities and differences. +10% per application.

HAVE YOU CHOSEN AND PREPPED YOUR RECOMMENDERS?
Do you know who will be recommending you? Do they know they will be recommending you? Have you given them timelines, talking points and a current resume? If so, break even. If not, +1 week.

ARE YOU PLANNING ANY TRAVEL, VACATION OR AWAY TIME?
If so, add a day to your required time for every day you won't be working.

These numbers presume that you're doing other things at the same time, such as preparing for standardized tests, working or attending school. If you have nothing to do other than apply to school, reduce your final number by -25%.

Worried about your timing? Want to talk things through with someone? We're happy to help.