Stanford Tops New B-School Ranking

Can a 2nd Round Application Boost Your Odds?

Time is of the essence when applying to business school. There can be a lot of pressure on MBA applicants to submit their application during the first round. In many cases, waiting until the next round can actually improve your chances.

Stacy Blackman is the founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting — an MBA admissions consulting firm. She has spent over a decade helping MBA candidates get into the top business schools. For many clients, choosing a round to apply ranks among the most difficult decisions. Recently, Blackman tapped into her experience for a US News piece on the second round cycle. Here are three reasons why applicants may be better off holding an application for round two.

1.) You’re not fully convinced of your application’s quality

An application with several errors is going to fare poorly among MBA admissions committees regardless of the round it is submitted. Blackman says applicants need to ensure admissions essays “succinctly answer the provided question.”

“So often we review essay drafts in which applicants are so intent on positioning themselves a certain way or highlighting a particular achievement that they fail to adequately respond to what their target program has asked,” Blackman says.

Applicants should have “utter confidence” in their test scores and letters of recommendation. Almost always, a polished application will do better than an unpolished one, regardless of the round it’s submitted.

2.) You’re considering taking one last shot at the GMAT

It’s important for applicants to consider the average GMAT scores at their desired MBA programs. “If you’re not even in the ballpark, it’s time to buckle down and improve those test scores before applying,” Blackman says.

According to MBA advice published by The Economist, the second round can be more difficult due to a larger pool of applicants and fewer acceptance spots remaining. Yet, GMAT scores are valued the same in both rounds. “If you feel that your GMAT scores are rock solid, this shouldn’t make too much difference to you, but it should be a concern if you feel that your scores are a little weak or a bit of a stretch for where you intend to apply.”

3.) You want to first experience the campus

Reading about a university online can only tell you so much about the actual experience of attending an institution. If you’re hesitant about how you will fit into a certain program, Blackman says, “experiencing the school in person is the single best way to get a real feel for the learning environment and decide if it’s a good fit for you.”

For many first round applicants, visiting a campus just isn’t a possibility since most business schools offer class visits after the first deadline. However, if getting a feel for a campus is crucial to you, it’s better to hold off your application until the second round.

The best strategy, Blackman says, is to submit your application when you feel it is fully ready.

“Make sure all aspects of your application are the strongest they can possibly be,” she says. “Never sacrifice quality just to get into round one.”

Sources: US News, The Economist