Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
Occasionally, a candidate will call us and ask, “Shouldn’t I apply in the second round, because all of the best and most prepared applicants apply in the first round?” The answer to this question, in short, is “no!” All things being equal, candidates should apply early—no places have been given away in the class, and the admissions committees are still “fresh” (and thus are reading applications more attentively). Even if the first round included “better” candidates, the schools would not limit themselves to an absolute number of places offered, but would instead accept more of these great candidates or possibly defer strong candidates about whom they are undecided until the second round, via the waitlist. So, you should try to apply early, yet take care to apply only when you can be at your best. As we have discussed in other posts, quality should be the main determinant in your decision to apply in the first or second round, with timing factoring in only as a tie breaker.