Should I Still Try to Apply to B-School in Round One?

by on August 17th, 2017

Fall is here, and that can mean only one thing: Round one MBA admissions deadlines are nearly upon us. Most top MBA programs have their round one deadlines in mid-to-late September, but some (like Harvard Business School) are even earlier than that.

Every year at about this time, we are flooded with prospective MBA candidates who are searching the internet for answers as to whether or not they should apply in round one.

There’s a lot of information out there, but much of it is confusing, and it’s only made more complicated by the fact that every applicant is going to have their own unique situation. So if you want to really determine whether you should still try to apply to business school in round one, you need to take an honest assessment of where your application is at right now.

Who Should Apply to B-school in Round One

First, let’s look at the profile of someone who should apply in round one:

  • Someone who has taken the GMAT and is happy with their score. Perhaps you took the GMAT early, in college or shortly after, and re-took as needed and are happy with your score (above the average score reported by the schools).
  • Can provide solid evidence of leadership both in their undergraduate years and in their experience as a working professional.
  • Has compelling essays written and in the revision stage; The essays have specific examples that reinforce their brand and clearly address the school’s prompts.
  • Super organized, type A candidate who had their transcripts collected and started working on a b-school resume.
  • Has already connected with recommenders and discussed what elements of their personal brand would be best served in a good b-school recommendation letter.

These are the characteristics of candidates whose applications wouldn’t really be improved by waiting until round two—they’ve already put in the time to get everything as perfect as it’s reasonably going to get. If this is where your application is at (or if you’re very, very close), then yes: you should apply in round one.

When to Wait Until Round Two to Apply to B-School

MBA applicants tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to apply early. There are many misconceptions about when is the best time to apply to business school. Everyone knows that it’s best to apply as early as you can—but what they don’t realize is that the unspoken end of that sentence is not “as early as you can put together an application,” but “as early as you can put together your strongest possible application.”

Unfortunately, every year there are people who apply in round one who are not actually ready. That’s a mistake that can cost you a year if you’re going up against people who are prepared with an incredibly strong application in round one, you’re much more likely to be denied and have to wait another year to get into your target schools.

If some of these issues reflect where you’re at right now with your MBA application, then you should seriously consider holding off until round two to apply:

  • Your GMAT or GRE score is below average for the schools you are targeting, and you think that you would be able to pull your score up if you studied for a couple more months and retested.
  • You’ve recently changed jobs and need more time to get settled, gain experience, and possibly get a recommender from your current job.
  • You don’t have a lot of leadership experience in your background, but believe you have the opportunity to be proactive and seek out opportunities for leadership in the coming months.
  • You’re struggling with your essays, having a hard time coming up with specific examples, or haven’t even started writing them.
  • You aren’t sure how to brand yourself in order to present a compelling case for acceptance to the admissions committee.

If you’ve had your heart set on applying to business school in round one, it can be tough to face the fact that you might need to hold off in order to perfect your application. But the reality is that you have a much better chance of being accepted into your preferred MBA program with an incredibly strong, A+ application in round two than you do of being accepted with a mediocre application in round one.

Where Should You Go From Here?

If you’re not quite ready to apply in round one, don’t despair. Take this time to push hard to build the strongest possible application you can for the round two deadline. Seek out additional leadership opportunities, work on crafting your personal brand, get in touch with recommenders who can authentically sing your praises, and create a study plan to boost your GMAT or GRE score.

And remember: you don’t have to go it alone. If you think that you might need some support to get into an elite business school in round two, EXPARTUS may be able to help. For more information on what we do, you can reach out to us at, or give us a call at 844-259-4506.

The post Should I Still Try to Apply to B-school in Round One? appeared first on EXPARTUS.

Ask a Question or Leave a Reply

The author Expartus gets email notifications for all questions or replies to this post.

Some HTML allowed. Keep your comments above the belt or risk having them deleted. Signup for a Gravatar to have your pictures show up by your comment.