How Will Coronavirus Impact Business School Applications?

No matter how this crisis ends, it’s safe to say that COVID-19 has produced one of the most profound tragedies and transformational events in our lifetimes. As the husband and brother of two physicians, the son of aging parents, and the father of two children, I have certainly felt the angst that this has caused, and I consider myself fortunate that all of my loved ones are so far safe from it. More than anything, this is my deepest and most genuine takeaway from this crisis.

Nonetheless, I’m also a business owner who has, for 15 years, helped MBA applicants take an important step forward in their careers by earning admission into the school of their dreams. Before the crisis hit, we at Gurufi / FourthWrite had scripted out a video series, hired production crews, and were prepared to film a multi-part YouTube series on MBA personal statement writing. Shelter-in-place has made that impossible, but in this hard time, I still wanted to say a few words to people who are at various stages of applying to business schools.

Here are three thoughts:

1. Uncertainty rules. For both students who have been accepted into business schools and people who intend to apply in the coming year, we just don’t know what will happen. I will try to give my best guess as to what I think, but the fact is we don’t know if schools will start on time in the fall, if the timing of the admissions season will be altered, and if schools do open if a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall/winter will again grind the global system to a halt, including universities. The short answer is to “what will happen?” is, unfortunately, “wait and see.” Schools are planning for multiple contingencies, ranging from altered calendars, to exclusive online learning, to cancelation, to back-to-normal.

Things can induce as much anxiety as uncertainty, but the one thing that gives me some comfort is that everyone appreciates the scope of the crisis and most people and institutions will take a proactive, flexible, and humane approach to making sure every applicant and student is treated as best and as fairly as possible.

2. What if I’m applying to business school in the next year? Though there is conflicting opinion on this, but I think that business school applications are about to become more competitive. Business school applications have declined the last several years, meaning that the intense fight for slots at select schools was even tougher. I think that this trend will reverse, in large part because during economic downturns many people will view graduate and professional schools as a good place to wait out the storm and acquire new skills until the economy rebounds. 

 It’s not a perfect analogy, but in 2007 applications to business school and law schools had been declining for several years, but from 2008-2010 they skyrocketed as the economy tanked. Then, as the economy stabilized, the numbers of applicants to business and law schools began a decline that lasted several years.

This economic disruption likely means fewer lucrative job offers for early-stage professionals, fewer promotions and raises, etc. This means that people who want to continue their professional ascent will need to augment their skill set by earning graduate degrees. 

3. If you’re under stay-at-home orders, now is a great time to do some initial work… with an important caveat

There are two schools of thought for how to deal with the stay-at-home isolation that has with the coronavirus outbreak, either of which can be completely acceptable, depending on the person. 

Approach One: You’re forced to be indoors, so you use the time to be productive. If this is something you can do, then do it. Use the time to better yourself, prepare your application materials, investigate schools for fit and likelihood of admission, and study for your GMAT if you need to. This way, you’ll emerge from this crisis prepared to move assertively on your applications.

Approach Two: If you’re finding this period highly stressful or if the realities of your life (kids, job, parents, finances, etc.) make it impossible to do the kind of work that an application requires, then focus on your health and wellness and worry about applications later. These “if you don’t come out of this crisis with X, it’s not because you didn’t have time, it’s because you didn’t have the will” memes are wrong and, frankly, cruel to people for whom this crisis has placed extraordinary burdens.

If you do have the bandwidth to work on your application, here are my suggestions

  • Work on tasks that don’t necessarily require a lot of mental engagement. Everyone is distracted and drained, so do things like read about various programs, make lists prioritizing what you want in a business school, or make detailed timelines for yourself so that you spread the work out over time. 
  • Brainstorming is a fantastic way to generate content for your eventual personal statement AND to de-stress. There are lots of ways to brainstorm, but my favorite is the 12-minute timed write. It works like this: 1) clear a comfortable place for yourself to write. Ideally, it should be quiet and distraction-free. If you like writing with snacks or music, then, by all means, have those things. 2) Get a notebook if you can. There are some good studies talking about how handwriting -as opposed to typing- is better for spurring creativity. 3) Set a timer for 12 minutes. 4) The rules are: no matter what, you keep writing. If you feel a pause coming, have a phrase or mantra that you write over and over so that your hands don’t stop. Some people like affirmations like “I have an interesting story to tell!” and others like “A quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” because it uses every letter in the alphabet. But whatever your fallback phrase is, try to get back to writing relevant content quickly. Importantly, do NOT JUDGE what you’re writing, erase or scribble anything out. The purpose of brainstorming isn’t to generate refined elegant prose that is tightly organized and ready to present; it’s to start generating ideas and content, and to explore your thinking on a topic. 5) Commit to doing 3 days of brainstorming. Each day, select a different one of these topics:
  • Why am I a great candidate?
  • What will my life be life after business school?
  • What moments am I most proud of?

By committing just 12 minutes per day for 3 days, you will create many pages of content that you can use as the “bricks” for the building you intend to create.

In future posts, I’ll have some additional steps that you can take to maximize your time in social isolation. The most important “tip,” though is obviously to take care of yourself, focus on your health and wellness, and find ways to demonstrate appreciation to loved ones, particularly people who may be physically isolated or alone.

Brian Fobi is the CEO of FourthWrite / Gurufi. Gurufi and FourthWrite offer admissions writing consulting. If you have a draft that you’re not sure about, have our experts revise and advise by going to If you don’t have a draft or if you need more comprehensive services, check us out at

If you have questions, contact Brian at

Part 1 of Our “Interview With a Doctor” Series.

In our “Interview With a Doctor” series, we talk to doctors about their journey to medicine, medical school admissions, what they wished they had known when they started this process, and what they see as the rewards and challenges of being a doctor. Today is Part 1 of our interview with Dr. Aloysius Fobi, who is a board-certified emergency medicine physician, professor of medicine at Oregon Health Science University, and attending physician at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

If you have questions about medical school admissions, please check us out at or email us directly at The editors and consultants at Gurufi have helped hundreds of motivated aspiring physicians get into their dream medical schools. We hope that you can be the next one!

Advice from Doctors on Medical School Admissions & Life As a Doctor

As part of our ongoing series on medical school admissions, life as a doctor, and the challenges of life in medicine, today we interview Dr. Aloysius Fobi, MD and Dr. Rachel Pilliod, MD. Dr. Fobi is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician and professor of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. Dr. Pilliod is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist and ObGyn who trained at Massachusetts General Hospital / Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, and currently is an attending physician at Oregon Health Sciences University.
Today, they talk about persistence in the medical school process, how to differentiate yourself from other qualified doctors, and what committing to medicine means on a practical level.

If you need help with your medical school applications, please check us out at or email us at

Tips for Medical School Secondary Essays

For med school applicants, writing your AMCAS Personal Statement can be hell. You spend weeks perfecting every sentence. Then… secondaries come. Maybe even dozens of them. It can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips for how to think about this process.

Tips for Getting a STRONG Letter of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a vital part of your application, but people often don’t treat the process like it! Even though your recommender is doing the writer, you still have real work to do in order to make sure that it is a strong letter that advances your candidacy. Here are some hints and insights on letters of rec.

Five Mistakes to Avoid in your Business School Personal Statement

As you go about crafting your business school personal statements, here are five mistakes to avoid making.

A Great Breakdown of the Medical School Admissions Process

This is a really useful overview. I’d recommend anyone applying print this out and upload its details into their calendars!

From Scribe to MD: Use Journaling to Mine Your Experiences for Medical School Applications

When I work with scribes on their personal statements to medical school, the thing I encounter over and over is that, despite their many relevant and often amazing experiences, they have no clue what to write about in their personal statements. Importantly, it’s not that they struggle to choose from among so many great options, it’s that they feel like they don’t have a single story that’s compelling and interesting enough to make for a powerful personal statement.

When this happens, I’ll direct our conversation back to the days before they began scribing, ask them to talk about their first few days, and then slowly go through all of their experiences. What happens is that there’s often this, “oh yeah, I DID do that, didn’t I!??” moment where they start to recall all of the interesting cases they were a part of and, more importantly, gain a sense of just how much they’ve learned, changed, and grown since they began scribing. These are all components of an effective personal statement.

Though we do offer essay revision services and broader medical school application writing consultation, we are committed to providing thoughtful and effective resources for people who might not have the means to pay for what we offer. With that in mind, we’ve spent the past several months speaking with scribes, successful MD applicants we’ve helped, doctors, and people who have worked in medical school admissions to put together a guide that will help you transform your experiences as a medical scribe into a powerful personal statement (and secondaries, etc.) that position you effectively for medical school.

We elected to make this in the form of a journal so that you can begin the process now, even if you’re a year (or even two years) away from applying. The most important thing is that you should start as early as possible, when your memories are fresh, and you can lay down markers that track changes in your understanding, ideas, ambitions, self-perception, competence, and confidence.

We urge you to download this free document, share it with friends if you’d like, and use it regularly so that when it comes time to write your personal statement, you’ll have a wealth of information, moments, accomplishments, and insights to call upon.

Why It’s Important to Journal During Your Medical Scribing Experience

Yesterday, I put up a Scribe Journal designed to aid medical scribed who want to become doctors document their experience in a manner that will help them when it comes time to write their personal statement. The inspiration for this journal comes from helping hundreds of applicants -many of whom were medical scribes- through their application process. The consistent repeated theme that I encountered is that scribing is such an intense experience, that you can sort of lose track of just how much you’ve done, how much you’ve changed and learned, and why this work can be so meaningful to aspiring doctors.

Last spring, while consulting with a scribe who aspired to become an orthopedic surgeon, I asked him about his clinical experiences, and whether there were any moments that stood out. He reflected for a second, then said, “hmmm… yeah, I don’t know. Probably not?” Knowing what scribes see and do, I was skeptical, so I asked him about his very first day on the floor, following an ER doctor.

He proceeded to tell me a story about how unprepared and nervous he felt, and how every case -each of which he described in some detail- left him feeling in awe of what the doctors did. I took a moment to dig down on one particular case, and the scribe described in fascinating detail the patient’s presentation, what the doctor suspected, and how that physician was able to figure out what the issue was.

I then asked the scribe to talk about the most interesting case he’d seen that week. His tone changed completely, and it was apparent that at each stage of the patient’s presentation, diagnosis, and treatment, the scribe had ideas and suspicions about what was going on that were informed by his experience over the prior year working as a scribe next to doctors. I set my notebook down and said, “you don’t know it, but you have the framework of your Personal Statement. Those two experiences are benchmarks for your growth and, when combined with some other aspects of your life, tell a compelling story about you.”

Though we designed our journal allow you to note important moments and then circle back to reflect on them, even if you don’t use this one, it’s a smart idea to, from time to time, write down important moments. Good days, really rough days, days you failed, days you had a meaningful conversation with a doctor, days that you realized that working in medicine is the only thing you could ever do, days that you’re so tired that you question your decision… if you document these moments, you’ll find that, when you sit down to write your AMCAS personal statement (and, later, your secondaries), your mind will start to race with recollections, ideas, and options for themes and stories that you can include in your text.

So, check out our Scribe Journal today and start making entries that will help you build a dynamite personal statement!

If you are a medical school applicant, and you think you might need help with your Personal Statement, Secondaries, or Work & Activities Section, either give us a shout ( or check out our website.