MBA Application Deadlines: Do the admission rounds really matter?

A majority of the Bschool applicants from India tend to apply to several top MBA programs abroad. With multiple MBA application deadlines for each international business school, planning which round to apply to and keeping track of the MBA application deadlines have always been a challenge.

Juggling numerous applications in the first round can sometimes get too difficult and often result in a drop in the quality of the submitted applications. So candidates may need to opt for the second or third application rounds.

Does applying in the first round increase my chances of acceptance?

It’s a good idea to keep your top priority schools in the first round when the chance of acceptance are the highest. Many competitive and well-deserving profiles are lapped up in the first round. However make sure that you’re not rushing with your application in an attempt to apply early.

You can reap the benefits of applying early only if you have created a strong application and have been able to spend enough time on all the application related aspects.

If you’re applying in the second round, a certain percentage of seats are already filled up and if a profile similar to yours is already taken, the admissions committee may be more interested in the other profiles to maintain the ‘diversity’ element of the class.

When would it be recommended to apply in the second round?

If you’ve landed with a really low GMAT score (much lower than your expectations) and you would like to go for another attempt at the GMAT, you may probably have to skip the first round.

Your work experience may be on the lower side and you may wish to add more flavour to your application by including diversity of work experience.

Maybe there’s a phenomenal development expected at work that you could include in the application and make it more impactful.

– You may wish to demonstrate your efficiency as a team leader by successfully managing an ongoing project with tough deadlines.

– You may be in the process of bagging a contract for your company using your marketing and negotiating skills. You may be expecting a promotion which you would like to include in your resume.

There may be other interesting developments in the pipeline which you feel would add value to your application. Or it may simply be buying more time for yourself to put in your best.

You may skip the first round and apply in the second, if by doing so, your application output during this additional time would significantly contribute to strengthening your candidacy.

As an international candidate applying for the top U.S. schools, what are my chances if I apply in the third round?

Applying in the third round may mean too less time for the various formalities international candidates need to complete. This includes completing F1 visa application and considering various financing options.

Applying early for mba scholarships also improves your chances of getting one. We would say ‘the earlier the better’ in case of international candidates.

And not to mention the fact that most of the students who have been offered seats in the earlier round cover multiple industries, roles and countries. So differentiation becomes a MUCH bigger hurdle to cross at this stage.

I missed the first round. Should I apply next year rather than in round 2 or 3?

Though a big chunk of good candidates get in during round 1, this does not necessarily mean that you should not consider round 2.

Most of the admissions officers advocate applying in the first two rounds. With the additional time you get to work on your application, you can come up with a stronger application which gives you a good chance of acceptance.

On our blog, you’ll find stories of folks, who’ve successfully converted second round applications and got scholarships as well. Read Nitin’s Kelley MBA application story.

So our advice would be to go in for the second round. But be aware of this phenomenon that we saw with ISB Admissions Round 1 vs Round 2 deadlines.

Avoid the third round if possible, though there are some exceptions like this lucky Indian applicant – Admissions chances for Round 3 deadlines and beyond.

Managing MBA application deadlines can become easier if you understand the pros and cons of applying in the first, second and third rounds. And of course, starting early so you are in a position to spread out the applications well in advance.


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

8 Comments

  1. Manish says:

    Working in a Big4 company, in a software testing profile since 2 years, will my experience be considered as relevant, if I apply to bschools abroad.

    • Sameer Kamat says:

      By ‘relevant’, if you are talking about eligibility, then sure it will be.

      However, the number of years would be less. It might be better to wait for 1-2 years and gain some managerial experience before applying.

  2. akash jha says:

    hi….my name is akash..i m 30 yrs old..passed 12 in 2002..joined engg in 2005 n completed in 2012 with 53%.now m very sincere n want to join MBA..plz suggest is it worth as m 30 n graduation was really bad..lots of gap..

    • Sameer Kamat says:

      Hi Akash, If you’ve struggled with academics in your engineering days, it may not be a good idea to jump back into academics when you know it’s not your strong area.

  3. Ankit says:

    Hi, I am ankit. I have an experience of 27+ months in Telecom IT and my undergraduate CGPA is 7.16/10. Additionally, I have an international exposure while working with my current company. What could be the chances of getting the School Acceptance in 2nd round of applications?. I have a score below 700.

  4. Anusha says:

    Hi Sameer,
    Below is my profile and I would like to apply for Mccombs, Kelly, Tepper, univ of singapore for round 3 deadlines.
    Reasons for late application:
    1, 297 a Low Gre score, New score (Expecting ) is 320 Toefl : 97
    2, To get a strong recommendation from current job
    Why Now fall 2016 but not Next Year : My current skills in Digital Marketing + General MBA = Will make a strong impact in Pharmaceutical or Food Industry with right business strategy

    1, Current Position as Seo analyst ( Digital Marketing ) in an organisation. Past 19 months as a international customer service and Online marketing in gaming industry. Later, Digital Marketing internship for 4months .Total work experience by September 2016 intake is 31 months.
    2, 297 in Gre 149 Quant, 148 Verbal
    3, St Peter’s Institute of pharmaceutical sciences, 3.5/4 , Bachelor of Pharmacy.
    4, Volunteer and zonal co ordinator in youth for seva organisation for a government school, Volunteer for adventure club, 2 times winner in poster presentation on marketing and volunteer for college events. Started a project on clean and green city on garbage issue but did not work.
    5, No , But taking course on Financial Markets and marketing from coursera

    Is it good and Am I competitive to apply for round 3 for MBA? My reasons are valid?Can you please suggest any schools where I can apply for round3

    I’m awaiting for your reply.

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