Round 1 or Round 2 – that is the question…
There is definitely a frenzy around trying to submit applications in round 1. So much so that you might wonder what the other rounds are for. If everyone needs to submit applications in round 1, who exactly is being admitted in round 2? The answer: a lot of people are admitted in round 2, and if your application is not ready this October, you should not be afraid to slide to round 2.
UCLA Anderson School of Management has shared its own perspective with prospective students struggling to decide in which round to submit their application, which we’ll summarize here:
Pros: All seats available; early application shows you’re serious about an MBA; waitlisted applicants can still be re-evaluated in rounds two or three; ample time to apply elsewhere in later rounds if not accepted.
Cons: applicants might rush, creating lower quality application; less time to prepare for and take the GMAT or GRE; less time overall for self-reflection, school research.
Pros: Most popular round at Anderson; allows ample time to prepare your application; allows time for a retake of GMAT or GRE if not satisfied with your score; more time to attend admissions events and learn about the program; allows time for a campus visit while classes are in session.
Cons: Competition is highest; if waitlisted or denied, you may not have time to reapply elsewhere until next year.
Pros: Allows the most time to pull together your best application possible; you’ll already have acceptance information if you applied to other schools in earlier rounds; allows the most time to enhance your application profile with additional promotions at work, new leadership experiences, etc.
Cons: Stiffest competition of all rounds, as the majority of spots in the class have already been offered.
At SBC, we say: All things being equal, round 1 may be a smarter strategy. At the beginning of round 1, all of the seats in the class are available. At the beginning of round 2, a bunch of seats have already been given away, and you are also competing with those on the waitlist. But then of course, there are those who say that all of the top candidates are applying in round 1 – and you are up against the toughest competition. So then, maybe it is best to apply round 2?
This is getting confusing, right? 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.
I recently spoke with a client who believes she can raise her GMAT from 650 to 700, but it will mean waiting until round 2 to submit applications. My advice? Go for the 700 in round 2. Always make sure all aspects of your application are the strongest they can possibly be, and then submit. Never sacrifice quality just to get in to round 1.
And with all of that said…there are very few instances when I would recommend round 3. Only the strongest, most amazing candidates make the cut, so if your applications didn’t generate sufficient interest in earlier rounds, they certainly won’t amid the exceptional candidates at the end of the season. Instead, you should regroup, restrategize and apply again next year.