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.
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.