On the EssaySnark blog, we often discuss the possible advantages of a first-round MBA application in terms of the perennial “odds of acceptance” question. EssaySnark’s experience from years of helping people with their MBA applications shows that it is in fact easier for a good candidate to get accepted in Round 1 than in Round 2. You can see one such explanation of the advantages to Round 1 in this article on essaysnark.com.
Even if there weren’t an actual admissions advantage, here are some additional reasons why a first-round application to any of the top schools is a smart strategy:
1. More scholarship funds available.
At the beginning of the admissions season, there’s more money to go around for merit-based and need-based scholarships and awards. Round 2 applicants also tend to do well in earning scholarship money, however why not apply when the funds are most plentiful? With few exceptions – notably Harvard Business School – there typically is very little money left for Round 3 applicants.
2. More time to secure a visa for foreign students.
If you’re an international student who will need to obtain an educational visa, you’ll have a less stressful process if you start early. Most schools discourage Round 3 applications from foreign students because of the amount of time it takes to get this done. A Round 2 application should give you enough time to get your paperwork in order – provided you do not end up on the waitlist. Apply in Round 1 and you’ll have more time to handle it.
3. More chances if you end up on the waitlist.
Some schools establish a waitlist for Round 1, and then carry it forward through the entire season. We hope you’ll gain an offer outright, however if you’re destined to be on a waitlist, it would be much better to start there in Round 1 so that you’re under consideration for longer. Getting waitlisted in Round 1 would also give you more time to fix any flaws in your profile and communicate that to the adcom, thus increasing your chances of getting off the waitlist. Being stuck on the waitlist is no fun at all; however, getting on the waitlist in Round 1 could mean a higher likelihood of success than if you’d been placed there in Round 2.
4. More time to plan the fabulous trips you’re going to take after you quit your job.
Obviously if you’re admitted in Round 1, you have that much more time to celebrate. Successful Round 1 candidates enjoy a stress-free December with no essay-writing around the holidays. Round 2 applicants? Not so much. If you’re applying in Round 2, you may as well cancel the New Year’s vacation you were thinking about. You will be knee-deep in applications from December through early January, guaranteed.
5. Maybe the most important: If you’re not accepted in Round 1, you will find out the school’s decision early enough to react!
If you don’t make it in with a Round 1 application, all is not lost. You can adjust your strategy and still have a go for other schools in Round 2. If you wait to submit your first applications in Round 2, then it’s more of an all-or-nothing strategy. It can be much riskier.
Of course, there’s a whole other strategy to consider: Several b-schools offer an “early action” option. If one of these schools is at the top of your list, this is definitely the way to go. It can be a serious advantage for a good candidate. Look to the EssaySnark blog for a continuous discussion of the important questions on b-school rounds and overall timing of your MBA applications.
To get more practical tips on how to approach your MBA applications, check out the SnarkStrategies Guides for all the top MBA programs – or head over to essaysnark.com for more advice and the opportunity to submit your essay for a FREE review!