First answer: No, you’re not out of time! Unless you haven’t even taken the GMAT yet (or need to retest), there’s enough time on the calendar before Round 1 hits. Sure, the deadlines are approaching, but there are still literally WEEKS available. Should you have started sooner? Yes. Is it too late if you’re just starting now? No, definitely not.
There are only advantages to applying in Round 1, and anyone reading this now, in mid-August, really really should be planning on at least a small handful of apps in the coming few weeks. (Though – caution – this should be only a handful – no matter how prepared you are. Applying to too many schools at once is nearly always a recipe for disaster, for a gazillion reasons we have covered before – or, here, we’ll let a former BSer tell you.)
What Round 1 does is it gives you two chances of getting it right.
What we mean by that is, if you apply to some select schools in Round 1, and none of them let you in, well, you know that something was off. Either you screwed up the pitch, or you were not targeting the right places. It’s valuable feedback.
You can use that in Round 2.
If Round 2 are your first applications, then you’ve squandered this hugely significant opportunity. There are no do-overs in Round 2. Round 2 is it. (Yes, technically there’s a Round 3, but nobody gets in then. Especially not these days, when the first rounds are so competitive.)
But you know what’s even worse?
Saying “I don’t have enough time” right now won’t give you more time later.
A BSer came to us last year with all kinds of stress and upset about timing, and this is what we told them:
The main caution that we can offer is, we very (very very) frequently see people in this position / at this time on the calendar, who decide to push out to Round 2 based on work commitments or whatever – and then nothing changes in their lives and they end up just as busy or often even more so as December rolls around, and they end up staring the Round 2 deadlines in the face with only three weeks to go and they haven’t even started.
We don’t know you so maybe you’re the kind of guy who won’t let that happen – but it’s a recurring theme with the people we work with every single year. We strongly recommend starting now with an eye to Round 1 for at least a handful of schools – and if you bust your butt to get there but don’t manage to pull everything in shape in time, fine, at least you’re that much closer. The application work has to happen SOMETIME so may as well get moving on it now. This process takes longer than expected, and the best essays require time to develop.
Plus yes, we do strongly see an advantage in Round 1. Year after year, we see people with comparable profiles and the Round 1 applicant sails in, while the Round 2 applicant struggles to make progress. It’s much more of an advantage with candidates coming from oversubscribed pools – like “Indian engineer” or “white American male” – and you’ve got that little weakness on the quant so it would be better to play the cards when all the advantages are available.
So, please be cautioned, BSer. We understand feeling pressured. We know there’s a lot of work ahead of you. That workload will not change in a few months. Whether or not you self-identify as a slacker, the reality is that DOING YOUR FIRST APPLICATION NOW IS GOING TO ADD VALUE. You’ll get through the obstacle of the hardest part of the process. You won’t exactly be coasting from there (every single app is a lot of work, but the first one is a heinous lot), but you’ll be setting yourself up way more to succeed – no matter how many apps you end up with, no matter the timing.
Don’t kid yourself, Brave Supplicant. Don’t put things off. Just get to work, and make it happen.
We’ll be right here alongside you as you do.