There is little more debated in the b-school application world than whether it’s better to apply in round one or round two. Most can agree that the third round is the most challenging, but late night discussions have endured and fights started over the topic of whether to submit for the first or second deadline.
The common myth surrounding Round 3 of the MBA application process is that you can't, or shouldn't, apply late in the admission cycle. "The class is pretty much full" is one refrain. "You have to be a truly unique applicant" is another. "Only European programs admit people that late" is yet another. As with anything, there are bits of truth in these sound bites ... but only bits.
Deciding when to apply to school can often get applicants mentally twisted, as they attempt to inject strategy into the process. We will speak more specifically to this decision in another post, but at this time of year, it makes sense to first talk about early action. More and more schools it seems, have an early action option which throws yet another wrench into the round one vs. round two vs. round three discussion.
Normally, once the fireworks go off on the 4th of July, that's our signal to start digging into the apps in earnest, as "October" Round 1 deadlines are a few months away. However, in recent years, the deadlines keep getting earlier and earlier. I know I had to really reset my own calendar given these changes, so I figured I'd do a public service and list them out here, calling special attention to the front-loaded nature of the deadlines.
I've been having this conversation a lot lately with individual clients, so I thought I'd take it out wide.
Basically, the idea is that Round 2 might be offering a slight advantage, based on theories of market inefficiencies and so forth. For years, I would say the prevailing belief is that Round 1 is the best round in which to apply to business and while there is no hard-core evidence to suggest otherwise, some common sense and deduction may point to a different result. So let's quickly run this down.