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Deciding between Round 1 and Round 2?

Veritas Prep can help.

Every year as the September application deadlines approach, we see many MBA applicants trying to decide whether to submit MBA applications in Round 1 vs Round 2. Ninety percent of spots in an MBA class are taken during these two rounds, but is one option better? While admission rates are generally about the same across both rounds, your individual circumstances will dictate your choice. If you start working with your Veritas Prep team now, we will help you decide the ideal time to apply and will support you through the entire MBA application process.

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Myths surrounding Round 1 and Round 2

You might see on blogs and forums those who say that it’s better to wait to apply in Round 2 to avoid submitting a business school application with a sea of submissions from the most organized, Type A individuals, whose materials have been polished and ready to go since the day the application systems went live. On the other side of the debate—naturally—are those that think they must apply during the first round at any cost. These people believe that if the admissions committees have the chance to review others’ applications before theirs, they are at a disadvantage.

In fact, neither of these philosophies gets at the heart of what applicants should base their decisions on. In reality, only about a third of business school hopefuls apply in the first round, with the majority of applicants actually applying in Round 2. So, you will be competing for seats against far more applicants by waiting until Round 2. For those committed to applying in the first round, we’re here to help you to do it; however, don’t submit in Round 1 at the cost of a better application later. This is similar to how you would decide in the business world and in life, although competitive pressures are a reality, focusing on your priorities, doing the best you can with the tasks at hand, and launching a high quality output once you are confident is the best way to go in choosing between a Round 1 vs Round 2 MBA application submission.

Who should plan to apply in Round 1?

Those who wish to receive their decisions before the end of the year

It’s true that applying early means that you receive your decision earlier, so you if you would prefer to have more time to plan travel, housing, and any important pre-MBA coursework, Round 1 has a distinct advantage. Round 2 decisions often are not released until April, or even later for waitlisted candidates. In addition, if you are denied from your top-choice schools in Round 1, you will still have a couple of weeks to submit applications to additional schools in Round 2. When you are seriously considering applying to four MBA programs or more and continuing with full-time responsibilities, while doing the MBA applications, it would be best to start working on at least two application packages as if you are targeting Round 1 even if you eventually decide to polish them a bit more and submit in Round 2. This is to distribute the workload, maintain the quality of your applications and your workplace productivity (and the quality of your personal life). A key reminder for this is to select your top choices for Round 1 as you would want to make a confident decision to accept once you receive the offer. Some applicants consider applying to less preferred or safety schools for Round 1, and deferring their applications to top choices in Round 2 as a form of practice. At times, applicants intend to submit for all programs in Round 1 but find themselves running out of time to complete their application for their top choice, and being forced to move this to Round 2. However, this is risky and stressful if you get offered a slot in your safety school while still working on your applications for your preferred programs. Thus, it is best to prioritize your top choices when you work on the essays, application forms, and requests for Letters of Recommendation (make sure to communicate these priorities early on).

Candidates from traditional MBA feeder industries and overrepresented demographics

Applicants from overrepresented industries such as finance, management consulting, and IT have a distinct advantage if they apply in Round 1. This is due to the fact that MBA programs value fostering a diverse student composition. The MBA admissions committee considers the work experience and cultural background of its applicants to create an enriching experience for its participants, hoping to draw on unique contributions each student can bring. Thus, they would balance the representation from each sector and demographic. Additionally, those who are reapplicants should plan to submit in Round 1. By Round 2, there may be many applicants who have already been admitted with remarkably similar profiles or improved applications. If you can apply in the first round, by all means, do so! However, if you’re missing any important elements, it makes sense to wait to apply later when you can present your best self.

Who should wait to apply?

Applicants who have room to improve in their applications

Candidates expecting to get promoted in the near future, completing exciting projects, and assignment to a new country can substantially improve the content of their MBA application, making it more interesting and demonstrating career progression. In this case, this should be considered in the Round 1 vs Round 2 MBA application decision, these could strengthen the applicant’s profile in different key criteria, such as leadership experience and cross-cultural collaboration. This would boost chances of admission to your dream MBA program.

Perhaps this goes without saying, given what we’ve discussed for Round 1. If you have anything outstanding that you feel will decrease the overall quality of your application and give an admissions committee pause, try to address it before applying. There’s no advantage to applying early only to be denied because of poorly researched career goals, sloppy errors, or silly mistakes! Submitting a haphazard MBA application package to your dream programs and getting a subsequent rejection will haunt you. You don’t want to be “An old man, filled with regret…” by not giving it your best shot as the characters in the Leonardo DiCaprio – starred film “Inception” would ponder.

Applicants who need to improve their GMAT scores

Business school applicants often begin their MBA applications aiming for Round 1, yet don’t quite hit their target GMAT scores. However, your GMAT score matters much more than the round in which you submit. If your GMAT score is 35 points or more below the school’s average, you will likely be in the bottom 10% of admits. You’ll have a far greater advantage if you raise your GMAT score than if you submit in Round 1, so wait and raise the score—even if you’re a candidate from traditional industries. An honest assessment if you can raise your GMAT score or if you have put in enough time, maximized available resources to help you fulfill your potential in terms of the GMAT score is necessary. Not only will boosting your GMAT score increase your MBA admissions chances but also raise possibilities of getting awarded a scholarship thereby putting additional funds in your pocket and improving returns on your investment, as well as adding distinction to your profile. As a bonus, you will feel more at peace with yourself even if you don’t make it, having put forth a best effort for your application rather than dwelling on what-ifs had you submitted a rushed application package. If you’d like to work on your applications and raise your GMAT score, take advantage of Veritas Prep’s GMAT Prep + Admissions Consulting bundles.

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  • Your biggest deciding factor in applying for Round 1 versus Round 2 is your level of preparedness: Are you ready to put your best foot forward by the deadline for Round 1? Your Head Consultant™ will use your Personalized MBA Game Plan to help you determine your timeline, areas of opportunity and next steps, plus connect you with a School Specialist and member of our Ultimate Admissions Committee to ensure you are showing the admissions committee a great overall application.

  • Begin working now with your consultant on your applications for the first round, and if you aren’t 100% confident that your applications are ready to be submitted, we will continue working with you on Round 2 applications for no additional charge. Getting started early will greatly reduce anxiety, allow you to maintain a balanced life while working thoroughly on each part of your MBA application. Your Head Consultant, who will work closely with all aspects of your application and with the experiences of handling many similar clients will be a great sounding board and adviser to weigh the pros and cons on these nerve-wracking Round 1 vs Round 2 decisions.

Check out our Comprehensive School Packages for prices and details.

Utilize our Ultimate Admissions Committee and submit with ultimate confidence.

Our Ultimate Admissions Committee™ has 75 years of combined experience leading MBA admissions committees and have made admissions decisions on over 50,000 MBA applicants! Comprehensive School Package clients have an opportunity to submit their final applications to our Ultimate Admissions Committee for final review and feedback. The Ultimate Admissions Committee will offer their stamp of approval or provide any suggestions for improvement so that you can submit your applications with ultimate confidence, whether you decide to submit in Round 1 or wait to polish your application materials for Round 2.

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