Should You Apply in Round 1?
Talk about a loaded question! If you apply in the first round, you’re competing against the top candidates. In round two, where adcoms receive the most applications, your candidacy could easily get lost. And round three? With most seats filled, good luck finding financial aid here.
Well, that’s the popular opinion for each round of the application process. But it doesn’t necessarily reflect unique factors that can help or hobble your candidacy according to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report. Here, Paul North, Michigan State’s Paul North, who heads the full-time MBA program’s admissions and marketing team, admits that the first round competition “is strong.” However, popular perception is not necessarily reality.
First, low grades or test scores aren’t automatically the kiss of death. For example, a high GMAT will generally offset any concerns about a middling GPA says Andre Gill, who heads admissions and outreach for the MBA and M.S. programs at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. Gill adds that there are other attractive attributes besides scores. “I tell them to apply early within the process. Gill tells U.S. News. “Explain to us why your GPA is not as high,” pointing to areas like work experience and technical experience. By applying early, applicants can always discuss their academic performance with adcoms – and have time to re-take the GMAT if it’s advantageous.
When it comes to financial aid, “the earlier the better” still rings true. For example, Gill admits that first two rounds are when Leeds has the most money available. And Lisa Shatz, assistant dean for MBA programs at the University of Texas-Dallas’ Jindal School of Management, reinforces the point. With the school’s deadline for scholarships being March 1st, she notes that any aid after that point “becomes whatever’s available.”
If an applicant is looking to pursue a joint degree, applying early is also a sound strategy. For example, Gill points to situations where students may be accepted into one program and not the other. By submitting a first round application, candidates have more time to adjust their plans in case they don’t get everything they want.
In the end, the best advice on when to apply comes from Gill, who offers one rule. “[Apply] when you’re ready.”
Source: U.S. News and World Report