Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. Aussie Military Man
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0 (rough conversion from Weighted Average Mark)
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Cornell Johnson | Mr. FinTech Startup
GMAT 570, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Future Angel Investor
GMAT 620, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Ms. Software Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.84
Harvard | Mr. PE Strategist
GRE 326, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Cal Poly
GRE 317, GPA 3.2
Darden | Ms. Business Reporter
GMAT 2150, GPA 3.6
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Ms. IB Deferred
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73

Second Biggest MBA Application Mistake

Jyll Saskin graduated from the Harvard Business School

Jyll Saskin graduated from the Harvard Business School

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re on Tinder. You spot someone cute and swipe right. A few hours later, you’re notified that s/he swiped right, too. Win! This cute stranger invites you to meet up… on Saturday night at 11 p.m.

Now, I’ve been out of the dating scene for a while, but I recall that a date at 11 p.m.on a Saturday can mean only one thing… and it’s not that s/he’s looking for scintillating conversation. No, you’re a last-resort date; the one this idiot will go out with should his/her Saturday 8 p.m. date not turn out well. No one wants to be the 11 p.m. backup date.

Similarly, business schools don’t want to be your backup school. They want to be your first choice school, the one you’re so excited to attend that you can hardly wait to submit your application. Sure, in your essay, you’ll write about how great the professors, curriculum, and alumni are at that specific school, but to admissions officers, actions speak louder than words. They want to be your main squeeze. (Okay, I’ll put the dating analogies to rest).

The surest way to demonstrate your serious intent is to apply in Round 1. It signals that you have the initiative and foresight to plan in advance, and that attending that school is a priority for you. By contrast, applying in Round 2 – or worse, Round 3 – signals very different things. It could mean you didn’t get your act together in time to apply for Round 1, or it could mean you got rejected from your “top choice” schools in Round 1.

Either way, it doesn’t mean anything attractive to the admissions committee, even if you do have benign reasons for waiting until Round 2. Now, I know that plenty of people get accepted in Round 2 and 3. That’s why they exist! But, if you’d like to maximizeyour chances of admission (and honestly, isn’t that why you’re reading this?), apply in Round 1.

Jyll Saskin is a graduate of the MBA Class of 2013 at Harvard Business School. She works as a Manager at Scratch, a division of Viacom, in New York. She also helps clients apply to top business school programs via missionaccepted.com

This article is part of a series on the five most common mistakes MBA applicants make. The first part ran last week:

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.