Late September. This is the time of year when eager applicants face a very painful decision: should I rush my applications to make the Round 1 deadline in October or take my time and hit Round 2 in January?
Conventional wisdom says the sooner the better. After all, in Round 1, no seats are filled and there’s no waitlist to consider. Admissions committees are fresh and open minded. And applying in the first batch conveys a sense of urgency, confidence and readiness. All true.
However, the reality is that not every candidacy is ready to be finalized and presented by October. Ask yourself if strengthening your candidacy for an additional three months could help improve your chances for admission:
• Do I have a promotion or new assignment coming up that would elevate my professional profile?
• Would prepping for and re-taking the GMAT, GRE or TOEFL help me achieve a score that exceeds the median at my targeted school?
• Could I accomplish something noteworthy as a leader in one of my non-work organizations?
• Would a campus visit or additional dialogue with students or alumni be possible?
• Could my recommendations be even more convincing if I gave recommenders more time to think about my candidacy?
• Would my essays be more compelling if I had time to go through a few more iterations before submitting them?
• Am I even applying to right schools? Should I do some more research before finalizing my target list?
If your answer to even a few of these questions is “yes” then you should give strong consideration to Round 2 timing. Furthermore, if your candidacy is somewhat non-traditional (i.e., age 30+, distinctive occupation, unique undergraduate major, etc.) the admissions committees could consider you as an ideal candidate to help round out the incoming class of more traditional admits who they grab in Round 1.
Bottom line: don’t panic even as your friends and colleagues pull all-nighters to get their apps in next month. Remember, the goal is not applying, it’s admission! Use the next three months to your advantage by identifying and prioritizing ways to truly optimize your candidacy and perfect your apps.
We encourage you to start by requesting a free, expert evaluation from The MBA Exchange.