Mission Admission: Round 1 vs. Round 2

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

At some point, every candidate takes a moment to think about when to submit his/her application(s). Inevitably, we find that two common concerns tend to crop up:

1) “If I apply in Round 1, will my application get lost among those of the ‘uber-type-As’?”
2) “If I apply in Round 2, will I just be too late?”

In the past, MBA admissions officers have gone to great lengths to calm the applicants’ jitters, telling them that Rounds 1 and 2 are virtually equal. More recently, however, many admissions officers have shifted their tone and have started to tell candidates that all things being equal, a candidate would have a slight edge in the first round. For our part, we have a simple maxim at mbaMission: “Quality before speed.” By this we mean that you should submit your application when you feel it is as its best, whichever round that happens to be.

Still, we do encourage candidates to do whatever they can to get those applications in early:

1) If you are part of a vastly overrepresented group (Indian engineers, for example), submitting your application before your constituency is well represented in the class can be a wise move.

2) If you are a truly unique candidate with a very low GMAT score, you might consider a Round 1 submission, because fewer places are available for such candidates later on. If several low-GMAT candidates are accepted in the first round, your school of choice may be constrained by its need to drive its GMAT average higher and may not be mathematically able to send out another offer to a candidate with a very low score.

3) If the school blatantly confers an advantage on candidates who apply early decision and you are certain that you want to attend this school, then applying early certainly has its advantages.

In short, do not fret if you cannot submit in Round 1, because the majority of the spots are still awarded in Round 2. Rest assured, the schools will always find room for a strong applicant.

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