Most of us have heard that Round 1 of the MBA application deadlines is most important. We’ve also heard that applying then, improves our chances of getting an admit. Let us test the veracity of this claim and the advantages of catching Round 1 of the MBA application deadlines.
1. The Signals
When you apply in Round 1, you signal the following to the school:
- Good planning skills: I know the typical B School application calendar and I have planned my tests, application, recommendations (LORs) well in advance. I have my GMAT score, language test scores, and have shortlisted schools that I want to apply to. I have completed the application packet – all in time.
- You are my first choice: Your school is among the top schools in my list. I am very keen on joining your school.
Applying in a later round could be interpreted as a no admit in the earlier round.
2. The early bird…
When Round 3 of the application cycle comes around, most schools would have admitted over 3/4th of their class. So, the school can be more selective and might focus on ensuring sufficient diversity in the class. All else being equal, you might lose out if someone with a profile akin to yours had already been admitted. But when you apply in R1, the prospective class is practically empty and your chances are that much better.
3. You can fall back on your plan B
If you have a few admits in R1 and are not satisfied with them, you can have a plan B for R2.
Let us look at the scenario where you have secured an admit at a reasonably well-ranked school with little or no financial assistance. In Round 2, you could apply to a few more schools that are more generous, and try to secure an admit with better financial assistance thrown in. An admit in R1 gives you the confidence to negotiate better in R2.
Conversely, if you had aimed too high in R1 and did not secure an admit, you could make amends and apply to relatively safe schools in R2.
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This blog has been written in mid-July. If you have already started your GMAT prep, you will be able to take the test by the end of August or early September. This calendar gives you just enough room to catch and make full use of the above-mentioned advantages of the Round 1 cycle of US B schools – provided you maintain the tempo, and consistency of your preparation.
What to do when you’ve applied in Round 1?
If you apply in Round 1 (typically September deadline), your admission notification will most likely arrive in the last week of December or the first week of January. From the time you receive your admit notification to when you actually join the B-School, you will have a solid 7-8 months of free time.
If perhaps, you’ve applied to, and got an admit in Top 30- level US B-Schools in Round 1, and wish to now try your luck at a Top-10-Level US B-School, you’ve got some security to now go do that.
If you are happy with the admit you have got and do not intend to take a second shot, you should capitalize on the 7 to 8 month window available at your disposal. How? These are some options –
Almost every B-school would have a quantitative techniques paper in the first term. If you are from a non-math background, or if you have a significant number of years of work experience, you may not be as comfortable tackling it as your math-savvy counterparts.
Start your preparation in this period. Brush up on your basics, get comfortable with what’s to be taught at the B-school. You will be required to spend much less time doing this grunt work, and will be free to network, experience all of what your school has in store for you.
If you are looking to switch concentrations, e.g. from finance to tech/analytics, or if you’re from an atypical background (e.g. Zoology), looking to get into Data Analysis/Finance, etc., then this is the time you can get your fundamentals sorted. Take up online courses, put in the work, and get some certifications that’ll be valuable both academically, and professionally.
For those interested in Data Analysis, take up a programming language like Python (the most widely used), and a data visualization software like R or Tableau.
For people interested in finance, take up courses from the NSE on equity valuation, trading, wealth management, etc.
Simultaneously, try and get a short stint at a consulting firm, or a financial services firm. Use it to build your profile, and establish credibility.
Actions like these will demonstrate commitment to the switch you intend to make. You will also get the necessary skills to perform well in the field of your choice.
Have you always wanted to learn a musical instrument, a sport or a new language?
This is the time to do it. In the competitive environment of the elite B-Schools, having some interests and skills to bond over, relax with, or demonstrate proficiency in, is a big advantage.
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Catching Round 1 Deadlines helps in more ways than one.
However, if your GMAT Prep is at a stage where you’re not getting your target GMAT score, or your profile isn’t the best it can be, it’s highly advisable not to apply. Applying to a school with a low(er) score than you can achieve, with a sub-optimal profile, just to catch MBA application deadlines can be damaging to your chances.
It is better to just wait and put in the effort required to get the GMAT score needed for your target B-School. Use this time to refine your profile to reflect what is best about you, and then apply.
If you have not yet started your GMAT preparation, it is high time you started. You will need at least 2 months to do justice to your preparation. Whether you prepare with a classroom program, a live online gmat course, or through self-study, gear up for a 350 to 400-hour intensive preparation. So, start today!
For a lot more details, here’s a link to a YouTube video.
Best wishes for your GMAT Preparation!