Jun 24, 2011

Round 1 vs Round 2 vs Round 3 of MBA Admissions

Let's start with the final recommendations first. The recommendations are:

1. Apply when you are best prepared, the sooner the better.
2. Avoid the last round.

Let's look at Pros and Cons of each round:

Round 1:
1. You have all the seats empty.
2. No quotas/diversity seats (international, women, etc) are filled.
3. Number of applications are lower than that of Round 2.
4. Little easier to differentiate yourself with the rest of your profile pool just because there are not as many candidates applying from a pool as in Round 2.

1. Highest quality applications (considerable number of reapps!)
2. Extra competition for top schools: Usually most applicants apply to their top schools in their initial rounds (and if don't get in, they apply to the lower ranked ones)
3. Lot of waitlists (Adcom don't know the quality of R2 and hence, follow wait and watch)

Round 2:

1. Maximum number of admits come from R2.
2. You get more time to prepare (or wait for that promotion letter that you plan to leverage in your application)
3. Quality may not be as good as Round 1

1. It gets crowded - Maximum number of applications (and hence, the 1st pro as well!)
2. Less number of seats to be filled (<100%)
3. Lot of quota/diversity seats already filled.
4. If you are from a pool that is well represented (Indian/Male/IT!?), chances are dim that you can differentiate well if you do not have a rock star application (and since few applicants from the same profile have already been admitted in R1)

Round 3:
1. Very few applicants.

1. Too late for internationals! (since notification date is just few weeks before the start of the class and visa, etc takes time. Some schools specifically discourage international applicants from applying in round 3)
2. Too few seats left. You are fighting for those 3-4 seats.
3. You need to have a "super" rock star quality to get in because all the rock stars are already in and few are hovering over your head with wait list balloons!
4. You are better off applying afresh in R1 of the next season rather than using the stale application and applying as reapp.

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