SBC Scoop: MBA Application Round 1 or Round 2?

Maybe you think you’re too old, or too young for an MBA. Maybe you need more extracurricular activities or to increase your quant skills. Or maybe the stars are aligned and you are ready to apply this year for entry in Fall 2012. Regardless of your situation, if you’re starting your application now one of your first decisions is whether to try for Round 1 deadlines or aim for Round 2.

Michael was working with one of our experienced consultants on his Stanford and HBS applications, and I was asked to take a look at his essays and provide a second opinion with approximately two weeks left before his Round One deadlines (learn more about the SBC process). Michael had several great stories about his achievements at work, his unique family background, and his extensive volunteer activities. He had a lot of great raw material in his essays, but needed a bit more work on polish. After conferring with Michael’s primary consultant we decided that though Michael strongly preferred to apply in Round 1, our professional advice was to apply in Round 2.

If you can apply in Round 1 there are definitely advantages for you personally. You have more time to prepare for school. You have less uncertainty around winter vacation time. And you can start networking with your classmates early. If you have a solid application ready to submit in October it’s an excellent time to do so. One advantage we don’t necessarily see is an increase in your chances of admission. It’s true that less people are ready to apply in Round 1. At the same time, the most prepared applicants are applying in Round 1. These are the people who beat the GMAT months ago and have been prepping their recommenders all summer. Or, they might be reapplicants who have already been through the process once. In our experience these factors tend to balance themselves out, and so we advise that our clients apply in the round that allows them to put together their best possible application.

Michael took our advice and spent another three weeks polishing his essays and preparing his recommenders to write great letters for him. The extra preparation paid off when he was admitted to HBS in Round 2.

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.

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