As you surely know, business schools break up their admissions season into rounds: one usually in early October (Round 1) or in September if you’re HBS or MIT or Yale, and the next in early January (Round 2), and the last in March or April. With few exceptions, all top schools use this model. A smattering of other schools (NYU, Tuck) have variations on this though they generally map out to a similar pattern.
If the schools set things up this way, then there should be equal odds of admission in all three rounds, right?
Many schools are open about the fact that their last round is more challenging because there are few spots available by the time springtime rolls around. But most schools insist that there’s no difference in your chances between the first two rounds. They admit the vast majority of their students from applications received from October to January, and they claim the odds of admission are no greater for Round 1 versus Round 2. Is that true?
In our years of providing MBA admissions consulting services to a wide variety of candidates, and helping Brave Supplicants with applications to every school out there, we have not found this to be so. We see applicants have an easier time getting in through a Round 1 application every year.
In other words, the same applicant gets an acceptance or two in Round 1 but doesn’t get anywhere in Round 2; or, candidates with very similar profiles have very different outcomes based on which rounds they apply in. EssaySnark is convinced that Round 1 is an advantage. We’ve seen it play out that way for many years now.
Submitting in an early round is a clear indication to the school that you have your act together. It’s a positive sign. This alone will not move the needle on an otherwise-flawed application, and applying in an earlier round would never be a sole reason for the school to admit you. However, applying earlier fits in the category of EQ (emotional intelligence): It shows the adcom that you’ve planned ahead, and are responsible and mature and all that. It can’t hurt to be emphasizing these qualities in such a subtle yet direct way.
We’re going to continue our discussion of this very important topic over the next few days. We also point you to our evergreen post, What’s This Early Action Nonsense Anyway, for a demystification of the unique processes that a few schools offer. And, there are situations when a Round 1 application is not advisable, which we will also be touching on. This is not a simple question, Brave Supplicant.
If you’re applying to Columbia, you really should get the SnarkStrategies Guide, since it discusses these seriously important questions on timing and advantages in depth.