Should I apply to my top choice MBA programs in Round 1 or Round 2? A few tips to help you make that decision.
Over the next ten days, round 1 deadlines for many of the top schools will start piling up. Yale SOM, London Business School, Stanford GSB, Wharton, Kellogg, INSEAD, Chicago Booth, UC-Berkeley Haas are all due, at the latest, by September 21st.
So if you are wondering how you are going to do it all for round 1 and if maybe you should consider waiting until round 2, here are some tips:
How far are you from perfect?
The acceptance rate at this cohort of schools is about 15 percent. What this means is real terms is that not only do you need the scores, the GPA and work experience to get accepted, you need a great story about who you are and why business school is the right next step. Have you written this story? If you hesitate in answering “yes” then best to hold your application until you have something pretty close to perfect.
Do you know the school?
As deadlines approach, one thing that always falls by the wayside is the school specific research that you need to write the essay not just why an MBA, but why an MBA at this particular program. The result is frequently a cut and paste job where different schools essentially get the same essay with only marginal changes. Read the essays you are considering submitting. If your essay is appropriate for ANY school then better to apply round 2. Take your time to do your research and really understand the nuances of one school versus another and then communicate appropriately.
Do you have time for the small stuff?
Frequently, where good applications are lost is in those small things that is easy to skip over. Examples include never doing a final read on the essays and the short answer questions, together, so you never pick up on any duplication; running out of time to proofread and certainly no time to have someone else proofread. Good proofreading includes printing out a final version of the application – in PDF form from the school website – and painstakingly reading it through for the truly dumb stuff. And dumb stuff exists. Ask me about a client who spelled Columbia, Colombia … no recovering from that even for the best application.
Finally, you’re reading this.
If at this point, with less than ten days to go (and likely much shorter) you are still debating if you should apply Round 1 or Round 2, the answer is almost certainly go for Round 2. A good application ends with a slow descent, not a crash landing. Better to take a deep breath, and do a really good application for Round 2.The result will almost certainly be better than a “rough and ready” version which doesn’t reflect your best effort. Such an effort doesn’t get you into a top business school, and isn’t this what your application effort is all about?