These days, as many candidates consider their strategies for the coming MBA admissions cycle, a logical question needs to be considered: how many schools should I apply to? Of course, the answer varies dramatically from candidate to candidate, but the golden rule to follow is that you should only apply to an MBA program if you have time to make the most of your application. So, if you only have time to perfect three applications, then you should not consider submitting five average applications.

In terms of a target number-assuming that time is not a factor and that you can commit yourself to all of your applications-five or six is generally optimal. With five or six applications, candidates can apply to a mix of reach, competitive and safe schools and can therefore truly cover their bases. Of course, each candidate has his/her own risk profile and timing to consider. Still, for most candidates, fewer schools can increase risk and more schools can be overkill.