Is it too early to be thinking about January deadlines?
Nope, not too early at all — especially not if you didn’t put in the full set of Round 1 applications that you had planned for!
And, many people intentionally forego Round 1 in order to continue to work on that GMAT or GRE score. Those are legit reasons to have a Round 2 strategy.
Or actually, basically all BSers are likely to want to have a Round 2 strategy, at least a sketch of one.
No, you don’t need to be actually working on applications for Round 2 quite yet (especially not if you’ve gotten some apps in the hopper for Round 1; hopefully at least one of those pans out!!).
However, having a plan in place today for how you’ll be maximizing the time over the course of the next three months is really important.
That’s because Round 2 comes at a truly awful time on the calendar: Those deadlines are all clustered together mostly in the first week of January, and they’re right after the craziness of the holidays. It’s a recipe for procrastination leading up to it, and massive amounts of stress once the reality hits of that simple turn of the page of the calendar into the New Year.
So. What can you do about it now?
Well, the work of school research is a never-ending task, and once your Round 1 apps are put to bed, it might be good to turn your attention back to that project. Knowing which schools you’re applying to based on WHY you’re interested in applying there can be a significant competitive advantage!
That school research thing is not just reading websites or attending zoom info sessions, but it’s also reaching out to people and asking questions about their experiences. It’s about working your network. It’s about figuring out what your own priorities are in a school and finding the schools that actually come through on those aspects.
Presumably you’ve done a fair amount of this already, in order to have gotten a few apps (or more!) submitted already. But, if you’re new to the actual work of applying, then this is something to have as an active task that you’re doing — not just something you’ve heard about and plan to do eventually, but actually engaged in and accomplishing.
If you’re new to the whole admissions thing, then it’s also a great time for the Comprehensive Profile Review — because learning about the strengths and weaknesses of your MBA profile NOW — while you can still implement some possible tactics for improvement — this can be a real competitive advantage.
Lots of things about an applicant profile are pretty set in stone by the time to actually apply rolls around. However, with three months runway ahead of you, then there might be something actionable that comes out of that Profile Review process. It’s worth considering, if you’re relatively new to all this, and still learning the ropes and understanding what it takes to get in.
About three months of time before deadlines come again means loosely 12 weeks where you can either sit back and relax feeling that those deadlines are so far off on the horizon that there’s no need to worry quite yet — OR you could map out a major deliverable or two that you’ll set your intent and accomplish, in each of those weeks leading up to it.
Your “game time” is likely only going to start in December — not till mid-December for many of you who have Round 1 apps in play now, since you’re not going to want to start on Round 2 in earnest unless you absolutely have to. Decisions come out for Round 1 schools mostly in the first two weeks of December.
The problem is, if you wait for all those decisions to be released before starting in on ANYTHING for Round 2, then you’re putting a truly heavy lift in front of yourself. Right now, if you’re still in essay-mode for some schools, you’re in the zone and cranking out content and probably have a lot of momentum built up. If you defer all action on Round 2 until you have Round 1 decisions fully in hand, then, sure, you may not need Round 2 at all. (We hope!) Or, it could be that you find yourself without an admit, either through rejections or unfortunately waitlists, which means that Round 2 could be needed, and then you’ll have to motivate yourself from scratch and find a way to get back into this same groove again… With the added complexity of having to deal with the letdown of emotions around not getting in.
So. Having a plan from now till the end of November and actually starting to execute on it by at least November 15th is strongly recommended for most applicants.
If Round 2 will be your first-ever applications, then plan for six weeks for that very first app. Subsequent apps will go more quickly, but your first one — if you’re doing it right — is going to take time. We’ve had BSers go through our Complete Essay Package cycle from start to finish in about two weeks total, so yes it’s possible to do it much more quickly. But that’s far from ideal.
Even if you’ve gotten a bunch of apps done in Round 1, your Round 2 apps will still take some time, both because of that aforementioned bummer-fest you’ll be living in if you don’t get in through Round 1, plus re-motivating yourself for the essay-writing project which most people fully detest. PLUS, if your Round 1 apps end up not successful, then that means you’ll need to re-examine that way that you pitched. It won’t be about just writing a bunch more essays; it’ll be about figuring out where your original essays were off or not optimized, and fixing those issues by learning new skills, and then writing a bunch more essays (and writing them again, through the necessary revision cycle that’s always required to create a quality end-product).
Alrighty then. We’re not saying you have to start on Round 2 yet — not at all! In fact, we advised earlier in the week that it’s important to take a break.
HOWEVER. Don’t let your “break” become a total disconnect from the process.
Waiting for interview invites is a h3ll unto itself, so you’ll want to stay busy as a distraction, most likely! And, don’t count too much on Round 1 coming through — it HOPEFULLY will, but hope doesn’t get you into bschool. Having a plan and knowing how you’ll make the most of the time remaining in the season is crucial.