The Round Two Fire Drill To Apply


The second category, says Abraham, includes applicants who seem oblivious to the convergence of holiday/weekend and deadlines that occurs now. “On Jan 1,” she recounts, “someone requested a free admissions consultation. Our auto-response says we will respond within 2 business days. 7 minutes after submitting the consultation request, the applicant responded to our auto response as follows:

‘Hi Linda,

I sent my profile through the link you provided but nobody contacted me.

My deadlines are January 7 , January 16 , and then March.

I would like to talk with some consultant.

Kind regards, and happy new year!’

Other examples abound. The chat functionality on’s webiste was accidentally working on Saturday evening. “Someone chatted that he wanted his resume edited in the next “several hours,” laughs Abraham. “Someone contacted us on Friday Jan 2 and asked for a discount AND one-day turnaround. Another applicant contacted us on Dec 26 and wanted review and editing finished by Jan 2 because he wants to submit his app before the rush this week. I thought this stuff was crazy, but the applicants all acted like they thought it was perfectly normal. I was beginning to wonder who was crazy!”


It’s also not unusual for applicants to second guess themselves at the last minute, trying to make sure they have put their best foot forward before sending off their applications.

“Clients send you URGENT emails saying they just showed their essays to their friends, and the friends say the essay is not personal or introspective enough, especially at HBS,” says Sandy Kreisberg, founder of “But there’s an important fact for everyone to remember: most “friends”, even friends currently enrolled in your target school, actually do not know what to say about essays, and cannot sense what an essay might actually need in terms of having goals that emerge from your story, explaining the motives for things you have done, having goals which require an MBA and explaining things about your story which need explaining.  The friend default is “this needs to be more personal.” That is rarely the case.”

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

Kreisberg says that candidates often ask “microscopic questions” in the panic to file the best possible application. “Along the lines of should I list my zip code in just five numbers or include the four number sub zip code?,” he says. “A famous question, ‘HBS is due at noon. If I fly to California, can I get more time?’ Answer: No. HBS is due at noon Boston time.”

In another case, Kreisberg says he had a client who spent four months finishing an HBS application. “Just 48 hours before the deadline, he wants to start Stanford,” says Kreisberg. “He actually said, ‘We can just use the same stuff, right?’”

For most admission consultants, the last 24 hours before deadlines are usually spent ping-ponging final essay tweaks back and forth with clients. “I’m that jumping on them as soon as they come in to keep the inbox clear in case of some deluge,” says Paul Bodine, of Paul Bodine Admissions Consulting. He cites as an example the applicant who decides at the very last minute to apply to one more school. “So it becomes a game of volleying iterations back and forth and seeing if I can stay ahead of my clients,” says Bodine.

Last years, he adds, Bodine had a Russian client who appeared at his door just a couple of weeks before New Year’s. “He was late to the party but I was able to work with him because he had an impressive entrepreneurial and international story, and he eventually got into MIT Sloan,” recalls Bodine.


Hoff of Amerasia says he has had Round 2 clients do five schools in 11 days and two schools in six days. “The latter is happening, as we speak,” he laughs.  “I can think of at least 10 clients over the years who have completed multiple schools in under two weeks.  What is strange is that it always turns out great.  I think the limited amount of time actually creates a more focused experience.  I don’t have to do any sort of dog and pony show to keep their confidence up (the further out from the actual work, the more I have to dance and do performative exercises to ease the fears of a lot of candidates) and they don’t have time to worry – it’s just a sprint to get from A to Z. It helps that most of those candidates are top-notch, who are only starting that late because their elite jobs have forced their hand – so there is some correlation between their talent level and how fast we got the job done, to be sure.”

Often, anxious candidates can suffer what Hoff calls “a loss of perspective sometimes a total loss”—as the deadlines approach. “When we start the process, most candidates really understand the lay of the land – that there is relative weight to difference pieces of their application, the general way that applications are read, and that I have other clients,” he says.  “By the end, many clients remember none of those things, so every shred of the application becomes an ‘urgent!’ question, a cause for panic, and in need of an immediate response. I spend almost all my time answering very minor questions and calming people down. I will sometimes get over 10 emails from the same client in the same day.

“For the most part,” adds Hoff, “Round 2 applicants are far less likely circulate their work to friends, alumni members, and so forth. This is a great thing, because that kind of crowd sourcing is one of the most detrimental things I see and it is something I have to combat constantly in Round 1 (talk about an idea for a piece – why having current students and alumni members weigh in is just about the worst thing you can do). It could be that Round 2 applicants are slightly more laid back, but I would guess it’s just a matter of timing – there isn’t this huge ramp up to the deadlines, so they simply don’t have the opportunity to complete a draft and then pass it around for everyone to read.”

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