In a recent blog post, Motown asks a question faced by many business school applicants beginning to feel rushed as deadlines appear on the horizon: should she continue her plan to submit applications in the first round or delay until a later round? (She has “A LOT going on”: an accounting class, a possible GMAT retake, school selection, a possible new role at work, a month-long project requiring travel, and personal commitments to baby showers, weddings, birthdays, and the need for “time to take it all in.”)
Some basic advice first. It truly is best to apply in the first round at selective schools: all class seats are open and acceptance rates are usually highest in this round. That said, submitting a great application in the second round is far better than submitting a good application in the first round: a merely good application cannot survive the highly competitive admissions process, and acceptance rates for the first and second rounds are not hugely different. So, if the first-round deadline arrives and those essays could use another draft or two, wait. If at all possible, do not wait past the second round: by then, most seats are filled and acceptance rates drop very dramatically from earlier rounds. I have worked with many reapplicants told by admissions committees that they could have been admitted had they applied before the late rounds.
To Motown, I would add this advice. Yes, you may be very busy, but a vast majority of applicants to top business schools are very busy. (Admissions committees wouldn’t have it any other way: if you think you’re busy now, just wait until you get to business school!) If those people can find the time to apply, then so can you. In my years as an admissions consultant, I’ve found that diligent clients take no more than three weeks to complete an application: the earliest deadlines are more than two months away, and your other blog posts show that you’ve been preparing for quite a while. So, you definitely have enough time to complete a number of first-round applications. You just need to move past the “planning” stage to the “doing” stage; once you do, you might well find your application work moving along quickly. Most schools have posted their essays for the coming application season; it’s time to get to work!
By R. Todd King, an MIT Sloan MBA. He has advised successful MBA applicants to top schools since 2001. Previously he served in the U.S. military and then worked in technology and media/entertainment. He has lived for extended periods in China.
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