The sooner you begin your admissions campaign, the better your chances for admission. That’s a basic truism for you. But each applicant to top Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs has to determine their timeline, based on complex factors past, present, and future.
Do you aim for fall deadlines with Round 1, or wait for post-New Year Round 2 MBA application deadlines? Some business school programs offer rolling or flex options, or further application rounds even later in the spring. There’s a lot to decide when it comes to timing your MBA candidacy. At The MBA Exchange, we specialize in supporting clients to work out the kinks in the application process. In our experience (which covers several decades …), timing isn’t just tricky. It’s also key.
Is applying for an MBA in Round 2 bad?
In the last few weeks, have you been wondering, “should I rush my applications to make Round 1 deadlines in October or take my time and plan on submitting a Round 2 MBA application in January?” Which of the MBA application rounds is right for you? The answer is, it depends, largely, on when you’re going to have robust applications ready to go.
Most applicants try to target Round 1 in the early fall. 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 applicant pool 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. If so, the Round 2 MBA application might be right for you. Bottom line: don’t panic. Use the next weeks and months to your advantage by identifying and prioritizing ways to truly optimize your candidacy.
What are the advantages of applying in Round 2?
Do you have a promotion or new assignment to elevate your professional profile? Would prepping for and re-taking the GMAT, GRE or TOEFL help you achieve a score that exceeds the median at your targeted schools? Could you accomplish something noteworthy as a leader in one of your non-work organizations?
If your answer to even a few of these questions is “yes,” you should strongly consider applying to Round 2 MBA programs. Furthermore, if your candidacy is non-traditional (i.e., age 30+, distinctive occupation, or unique undergraduate major) the admissions committees could consider you as an ideal candidate to help round out the incoming class of more traditional admits already grabbed in Round 1.
If you plan to apply on an MBA Round 2 timeline, you’ve given yourself an incredibly valuable gift – more time! Most Round 2 MBA application deadlines at top business schools don’t hit until January 3 or later.
Are you applying to the right schools? Do some more research before finalizing your target list! Would a campus visit or additional dialogue with students or alumni be possible? Make sure that your recommenders have plenty of time to consider the high points of your candidacy, and really get into the nitty-gritty when it comes to editing your application essays before submission.
Timeline for your Round 2 MBA Application
Before you commit to applying for Round 2 MBA, here are some factors to consider. What’s your MBA Round 2 timeline?
Are your current GPA and GMAT or GRE scores competitive?
College grades and test scores below what a given school considers “acceptable” definitely drop your chances of admission. Even with just months until Round 2 deadlines, some guerrilla tactics can help bridge a gap. For instance, we advise our clients about GMAT prep resources and online college courses that can mitigate past performance.
Are your recommenders committed to supporting your candidacy?
Start by choosing the right recommenders, then provide them with appropriate guidance to ensure that their input to the schools complements and reinforces your application. Confirm that recommendation letters have been sent! Applying for Round 2 MBA deadlines gives recommenders a little more time to get your recommendation letter in before the deadlines.
Double-check official application deadlines
Visit the schools’ websites just to make sure you know the date, time, and time zone (!) when the application is actually due. Accuracy matters when it comes to your MBA Round 2 timeline, often down to the hour or even minute. The admissions office doesn’t have to make any exceptions for late arrivals – and they probably won’t.
Do you have a clear sense of your relative strengths and weaknesses as an applicant? If you’re applying for Round 2 MBA admission, you need to anticipate how the committee will view your application compared to those of your competitors. Spotting hidden gems and red flags before you apply can make a world of difference in your MBA application process. The fastest way to do so is with a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy by a professional admissions consultant.