This post is essentially accurate but it was written a long time ago (2011) AND SIGNIFICANTLY, MIT Sloan now has three rounds! Also we wrote a post in May 2015 about the "equal chances in the first two rounds" thing. Just so you're aware. 😀
This post is another from the halls of EssaySnark Conjecture. It’s chock-full of our best guesses and educated musings. Just warning ya: this is opinion not fact, and you’re free to disagree (but why the heck wouldja?).
Most of the top bschools claim that there are equal chances of being admitted through either round 1 or round 2. None of the schools release their admissions statistics by rounds, which is why we’re calling this post “conjecture”; we’re guessing, for the most part.
Sidenote: We know for a fact that this is not the case at MIT Sloan. They are the only school that has just two rounds (October and January). They admit half their class in each round. Yet they get a lot more applications in Round 2. Your odds of acceptance at MIT are quite a bit better if you apply in Round 1.
And, this same pattern is true at the other schools with three rounds. Sure, it’s likely that they accept the same percentages of applicants in Round 1 and Round 2. But how does that play out in reality?
Say a school receives 4,000 applications throughout the three rounds. All the schools receive the fewest applications in Round 3, followed by Round 1, with Round 2 comprising the bulk of the volume. So say this fictitious school receives 500 applications in R3, 1,300 (about a third) in Round 1, and 2,200 (over half) in Round 3. These are manufactured numbers for a made-up school and we have no idea if we’ve even got the proportions right, but the logic should hold regardless.
Say this school has a 20% acceptance rate (schools like Kellogg and Booth and Duke are in this category).
If they accept the same ratios in Rounds 1 and 2, that means 260 accepted from R1 and 440 from R2. They might only accept a couple dozen from Round 3 regardless of how many applicants received, simply because the class is usually full by that late date.
So, we’ve got the same acceptance rate in both rounds 1 and 2… but don’t you think it’s much easier to stand out as a good candidate against a pool of just 1,300, versus trying to be noticed among close to double that?
And, don’t you think there’s a greater chance of having to compete against other candidates who look just like you on paper when there’s more numbers of you applying? If you’ve got a fairly typical profile, it just makes sense to apply in Round 1.
We’ll explore more of this next week. Have a great weekend, Brave Supplicants! (And quick note that all three of the current SnarkStrategies Guides are now available as real-life books you can buy from Amazon!)