You might wonder whether there’s a difference in acceptance rates between Round 1 and Round 2. The short answer is no. Here’s why Round 1 and Round 2 acceptance rates are usually very similar.
One of my jobs as a former admissions dean and director was to estimate the number of offers I could make given the dean’s enrollment target and my projected applications. These kinds of projections are typically quite accurate and based on several factors, including the number of GMAT/GRE reports that are sent to a given school, the overall number of test takers, and the number of inquiries a director observes compared to the number of inquiries year to date. With this information, a director instructs their admissions team to invite a percentage of the applicant pool to interview (or, in the case of open interviews, advises their team to make a percentage of offers).
When the admissions team begins to make offers in Round 2, the director uses the same percentage, because they do not yet know the yield on any of the decisions they have made in Round 1. Round 1 tends to be a smaller pool and more clear-cut (very qualified candidates and weaker candidates who believe that Round 1 gives them an advantage over Round 2). Schools tend to encourage Round 1 applications to smooth out the bottlenecks in Round 2, because Round 2 can be as much as six times the size of Round 1, and the adcom is not only reviewing Round 2 but also trying to field the Round 1 candidates. Once first-round admitted applicants begin to make enrollment deposits (typically in Round 3), the director will adjust the percentage of admits for all subsequent rounds and the waitlist, often looking at the waitlist at the same time they are reviewing Round 2 or 3 candidates.
Which round is best for me?
So, what does all this mean for you? If you aren’t ready to submit your application in Round 1, don’t worry. Your chances of getting in in Round 2 should be the same for schools that do not offer rolling admissions. If you are ready to apply in Round 1 and the MBA program admits you, you have the advantage of knowing your fate earlier, which can help with obtaining financial aid, visas, and housing and with getting to know your classmates. You can eliminate your safety schools from your list, sit back, and relax.
Remember, you only have an advantage if you are ready to apply in Round 1. You will have a substantial disadvantage in submitting a rush job that doesn’t reflect your best. Instead, use the time leading up to Round 2 to perfect your application and maximize your chances of acceptance.
A word from Accepted’s founder
Watch this video for Linda Abraham’s one-minute answer to “Which round should I apply to B-school?”
Are you unsure of when to apply to MBA programs? Should you push for Round 1 or hang back and wait for Round 2? The answer depends on your unique circumstances – which is why you need Accepted. Our tailored Admissions Consulting Service partners you with an experienced and professional consultant to help you create an application that presents you at your best. Whenever you decide to apply, we can help you get Accepted!
By Natalie Grinblatt, former admissions dean/director at three top business schools. Natalie has reviewed more than 70,000 applications, interviewed more than 2,500 candidates, and trained nearly 700 admissions directors and alumni volunteers to select outstanding candidates for admission. Her clients gain admission to top programs, including those at Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Cornell, Columbia, Berkeley, Chicago, Northwestern, and NYU. Natalie holds an MBA from Michigan Ross. Want Natalie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
Create Compelling Round 2 MBA Applications, podcast Episode 444