Tag Archives: round 1

Submitting Your MBA Application in 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’re ready to apply …

which roundMaybe 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’re ready to apply this year for entry in Fall 2018. 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 wait for Round 2.

Take a moment to consider our former client Michael, who was working with one of our experienced consultants on his Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School applications when 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.

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 it needed a bit more polishing to really shine. 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. That extra preparation paid off; he was admitted to HBS in Round 2.

The truth is that the admissions committees know what they are looking for. They’ve become pretty good at estimating numbers, and evaluating and accepting applicants that fit their criteria. The best strategy is not to play the game of which round, but to submit your application as soon as, but not until, it is ready.

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Ramp Up Extracurriculars Before Round 1 Deadlines

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. If you’ve been holed up in your office for the past three years, you may not have realized that volunteer experience and extracurricular …

extracurriculars and MBA application

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

If you’ve been holed up in your office for the past three years, you may not have realized that volunteer experience and extracurricular interests are a crucial aspect of your business school application profile.

Now you might be panicking as to what to do to fill out your application. You may even wonder why the admissions team is so keen on learning about your community service efforts or hobbies.

Top-ranked MBA programs aren’t looking for number-crunching robots to fill their seats – they are seeking multidimensional candidates with interests and passions outside of work who have shown a commitment to serving their community in some meaningful way.

An added bonus: The ability to make time for such endeavors shows that you’re someone capable of juggling academics with clubs, conferences, recruiting and more once at b-school. It also provides insight for the admissions team as to how you might one day contribute to the vitality of a class and the school’s alumni network.

If you’re planning to apply to b-school during the 2017-18 admissions season and don’t have many volunteer experiences or extracurricular interests to speak of, now is the time to start becoming involved – and avoid looking like you did it just for the application.

But there’s more to it than merely adding another line to your resume. Here are two ways to strengthen your MBA application with volunteer work and extracurriculars.

Brainstorm interests and activities: Start by brainstorming things that you enjoy doing in your personal life and seek out related organizations. Your extracurricular activities should be things that resonate with you and don’t have to include saving the whole world.

Perhaps you can expand one of your lifelong hobbies within a group setting. Are you a cycling enthusiast? Consider volunteering at an advocacy organization working to improve the cycling environment in your city.

Or do you love food and feel passionate about sustainability or the fight against hunger? Start a community garden or become involved with a food bank. The possibilities are endless, and any meaningful involvement can give you the opportunity to exercise your leadership and management skills in a low-risk, high-responsibility situation.

One client we worked with, Ali, had a strong applicant profile, complete with stellar undergraduate GPA, a high GMAT score and impressive work experience at a prestigious investment bank. Admissions committee members know that most investment bankers have little spare time to devote to community service, but we felt it would further bolster his candidacy if we could show Ali had an interest in helping others.

Ali and his consultant mined his background for relevant activities that would not seem abrupt if he became involved just six months before his MBA application deadlines. Inspired by his sister’s work with nonprofit organizations related to girls’ education in the Middle East, Ali had an idea to have young professionals in New York sponsor a high school-aged girl in a Middle Eastern country and mentor her in terms of possible postgraduation career paths.

Ali enlisted friends and colleagues to recruit mentors, and he launched the first year of the program in the spring before his application deadlines. In his MBA applications, Ali discussed how he had recruited six mentor-mentee pairs for the program and raised a meaningful amount of money to support it.

While low in time commitment for Ali, this activity had high impact and assisted him in his successful applications to Columbia Business School, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Think about activities that you participated in as an undergrad and become re-engaged. It’s ideal to be able to show continuity in your interests and goals. Even impacting your alumni organization in a positive way can be as impressive as engaging in charity work.

If you are a career-changer, your extracurricular activities may be a great introduction to your new target industry or function. Think about how you can demonstrate knowledge of your newly chosen career path through volunteer and community activities.

Focus on quality: If you’re already involved in a volunteer activity, that’s great, but that means that the quality of your contributions is most important.

Seek out leadership opportunities in your existing activities or find an organization that can benefit from your management skills. Taking charge in your extracurricular interests is great material for any leadership, management or teamwork-themed essay.

Business schools pride themselves in training future leaders and look for individuals who are concerned about doing great work and improving the world around them. Having interesting hobbies and community involvement shows that you have a larger view of the world and that you see what’s happening outside of your office and are motivated to become involved and contribute in some way.

These activities can also show self-awareness about your own role as a leader and your ability to leverage your position. You still have several months to create a meaningful impact before the first-round application deadlines, even if your free time is limited. But the time to get started is today.

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UCLA Anderson on the Pros and Cons of Each Application Round

Deciding in which round you should submit your MBA application can cause a lot of stress, as each seems to have its own pros and cons. As numerous business schools have second-round deadlines eminently, you …

Deciding in which round you should submit your MBA application can cause a lot of stress, as each seems to have its own pros and cons. As numerous business schools have second-round deadlines eminently, you might like to take a look at how the admissions team at the UCLA Anderson School of Management—whose R2 deadline is January 5th— views the pluses and drawbacks of each application round.

timing your MBA

Here are just a few of the points made by the UCLA Anderson AdCom on the subject:

Applying in Round One

Pros: Applying early shows you’re serious about going to business school. In the case of UCLA Anderson, you have the best shot at merit-based fellowship funds in the first round. If you don’t get accepted in the first round you still have time to apply to other programs in Round 2.

Cons: Least amount of time to properly prepare for the GMAT/GRE. Also, the time factor may not allow enough time for you to pull together a high-quality application.

Applying in Round Two

Pros: Applying in this round allows you ample time to visit the school and make a convincing argument about fit based on those experiences on campus.

Cons: Competition is fierce as this is the most popular round. If you don’t get accepted, you may not have time to apply anywhere else this cycle.

Applying in Round Three

Pros: The final round offers the most time to continue enhancing your profile with promotions at work or deepen volunteer commitments that show off your well-rounded personality. You’ll also have time to re-take the GMAT or GRE multiple times if needed to get your score in a competitive range.

Cons: A capped class size makes this by far the most competitive round as there are fewer spots available in the class.  You will likely be compared against many other individuals on the waitlist from earlier rounds.

The truth is that the admissions committees know what they are looking for. They have become pretty good at estimating numbers, and evaluating and accepting applicants that fit their criteria. The best strategy is not to play the game of which round, but to submit your application as soon as, but not until, it is ready.

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Make 2017 the year you achieve your most ambitious professional goals! Take the first step by signing up for a completely free consultation with one of our all-star advisors. We can answer questions, provide advice and help set you up to make your MBA dreams come true in 2017. Sign up today at: www.stacyblackman.com/contact

Image by Flickr user Cam Evans (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Michigan Ross Releasing Interview Invites Today

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business plans to send out invitations to interview today, October 25th, and the admissions team has been absolutely swamped so far this season. “Given the 13 percent increase …

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business plans to send out invitations to interview today, October 25th, and the admissions team has been absolutely swamped so far this season.
Michigan Ross MBA admissions

“Given the 13 percent increase in Round 1 apps (our third consecutive year of increases), we’re spending more time reviewing apps than we ever have in Round 1,” says MBA Admissions Director Soojin Kwon in an update posted on her blog. She also notes some exciting changes in the applicant pool: a big increase in apps from women, and increases from both U.S. and international applicants.

Ross MBA admissionsWhile interviews conducted at satellite locations with alums or via Skype carry the same weight as an on-campus interview, Kwon urges applicants to interview at in person at Ross if possible because it’s the only chance in Round 1 to do the Team Exercise, which gives the admissions team an additional data point with which to evaluate your ability to work on teams.

As far as preparing for the interview is concerned, the director advises applicants to know their resume backwards and forward, and to thoroughly research the school. “Interviewers are proud of their school,” she says, and “Doing your homework on Ross demonstrates interest.”

Prepare to answer common interview questions such as: “Why do you want to get an MBA? Why do you want to do that at Ross? What do you hope to pursue after getting your MBA? Why?”

Your answers should be succinct, enthusiastic, and show that you’re prepared without sounding memorized. “Be authentic,” Kwon advises, but don’t worry too much because, as she adds, “You don’t need to try to ‘impress’ us.”

A note for those who don’t receive an interview invite today: the admissions team may hold your application for further consideration and either waitlisted to revisit during Round 2, or denied.

If you suspect a low GMAT or GRE score has lead to your application being waitlisted, you have the option of retaking and submitting the higher score. Otherwise, send no further updates to the Michigan Ross admissions team.

Finally, Kwon notes that the school is working to make an additional loan program for international students available in Fall 2017, and Ross hopes to have the agreement in place by the end of the year.

Good luck to all Round 1 applicants to Michigan Ross!

You may also be interested in: 

Michigan Ross Director Calms Common Applicant Fears
Michigan Ross Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

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